It’s no secret by now that the baby boomer “generation” is the largest population segment on the planet, and its growing by 8,000 people a day. But no one knows what to do with that information.
Least of all the baby boomers themselves.
When I began researching the boomer phenomenon, I kept getting this image in my head of people gathered on the lawn of a large estate, where the doors are unlocked and the gates are wide open and nobody leaves! People my age don’t want to admit they are over fifty, and while I get that most of us are a long, LONG way from “old age” , I also think that by refusing to embrace the inevitable changes coming our way – changes, I might add that are extraordinary – we are also refusing to embrace a period in our lives that is, and will be, absolutely incredible.
A few years ago, when I was going through my old photo albums to find pictures for a blog to celebrate turning fifty, I was struck by just how beautiful I really was as a young woman. I’m not saying this to be egomaniacal. I’m saying it, because it was the truth. I am 5’9″ and, at the time, weighed about 135 pounds. Still too “fat” to be a supermodel, but I filled out a bathing suit nicely. I had chestnut hair, big green eyes and a smile that could stop you in your tracks. I remember opening the door to a delivery man one day, and literally taking his breath away. I am sure I did that more than once in my lifetime, and it still makes me smile to think about it now.
I also thought I was as plain as the day was long. I never wore sexy clothes because I didn’t think I had the body for it, I hated to be photographed because I was convinced I didn’t photograph well. My hair wasn’t straight, my nose wasn’t right. And when I look at those pictures now, I realize that because I didn’t embrace who I was at the time, for better or worse, I lost out on how much bigger my life could have been at the time. I regret limiting myself when I was young, because I didn’t want to be who I was. I am seeing that same phenomenon now in a HUGE segment of the baby boomer population. Someone posted a comment on facebook after I wrote my first blog, asking why I wanted to focus a new business on “old people” . I wrote back and said, “this, from the most active and engaging man over fifty I know?”.
What is so wrong with being over fifty? My uncle is 62 and he’s about to debut his first rock and roll CD. He’s wanted to be a musician all of his life but it wasn’t until his kids moved out of the house and got married that he had the time to pursue his first passion. He’s also a painter, which is an avocation he set aside to raise his family as well. He sold two out of three paintings at a museum in Vermont recently, and now he spends his days working on new oil paintings when he isn’t in the studio, recording new songs.
We’ve got the keys to the kingdom and we need to use them to embrace who we are. We have the power, but most of us are so afraid to admit we are over fifty that we are like those folks who have the freedom to leave the estate, and the fear of what might be out there if we do.
I don’t want to spend my “middle years” like a woman I know, who built her entire life around the fact that she was both pretty and petite. She LOATHES being “old”, but aging is as inevitable as the fact that she will never be any taller, and she doesn’t wring her hands about that. She’s made her life small because she doesn’t want to be who she is.
I don’t get the chance to do this again, so I want every moment of it to count. I didn’t do that when I was young, and since I am going to die someday whether I like it or not, I am taking the keys to my kingdom and walking out the gates into an amazing new day…..