Act Your Age
I was a mess when I turned 30! Leaving my 20s was traumatic for me, and it surprised me how grumpy and miserable I was about it. I was downright nasty to my poor boyfriend (who
decided he could tolerate this grumpiness for a lifetime and married me the next year) and my mom, who were (unbeknownst to me) planning a surprise party for me. Yet I felt terrible!
We all laugh about it now, how annoyed I was all day leading up to the surprise. Where did this grumpy, unsettled, irritable feeling come from? When I was younger, I remember thinking I would have it all figured out by the time I was 30. 30 was so…adult! I believed I would be all settled into my life by then and know exactly what I was doing. But in reality, does that ever really happen? Do you ever really reach a certain age and say, “OK. I made it. I’m a grown-up. I can relax now. I don’t need to grow anymore.” At 30 that’s what I thought I should feel, and it shook me when I realized I definitely did not have it all figured out.
Fast forward 20 years…I turned 50 this past fall. Right around that time, I was watching a Today show episode and the hosts were having a discussion regarding “the age you would choose to be forever.” Without hesitation, I said out loud…36! I would want to be the age 36 forever, the sweet spot. At 36 I was happily married, had a newborn baby, and had a career I loved that I had worked hard to achieve. There was something about being 36 that said: I’m old enough but not too old.
Why did I think that 36 was old enough? Old enough for what, exactly? Old enough to vote? Check. Old enough to drink? Check. Old enough to get married, have a child, earn a living, buy
a house? Check. Check. Check. Check. And what does it mean to be too old? Why did I think that 36 wasn’t too old? Maybe because I wasn’t 40, or 50 or 60. Are you ever TOO old? I have met jaded, negative “old-minded” 15-year-olds who act like their life is over. I have also met 26-year-olds who are wise beyond their years. And I absolutely know active 70-year-olds who seek to learn new things every day.
It is so true that age is not just a number. Age is a mindset.
I remember when my mother turned 50 like it was yesterday. My step-dad arranged for my sister and me to surprise them and meet for dinner in Philadelphia. My sister was married and pregnant with my nephew. I was engaged and planning a wedding for the next summer. We were grown and established adults when my mother turned 50. My mother has always seemed young to me. She has a youthful, energetic spirit that’s infectious. She has always taken risks and tried new things. In her 40s my mother left her safe job in human resources at Hershey Foods and started her own consulting business, providing human resources training for other companies. Then in her 50s, she took another big risk: she decided she wanted to do something else, something completely out of the box: She told us she was starting an alpaca farm! She jumped right in with both feet, divided her land into pastures, had barns and retaining walls built, and immersed herself into the world of raising alpacas. She taught herself everything about them. Now she can assist in breeding and birthing, organizes annual shearing, and proudly shows her animals up and down the East Coast. She has become an expert over the past 15 years and is now someone who mentors others in starting their own alpaca farms. When that became comfortable for her and she needed something else to ensure her hands were not idle, she took up pottery! Now at age 60 she immerses herself in YouTube videos to learn new techniques and is creating really beautiful pieces. She and my sister also have a shop at a farmer’s market where they sell her pottery as well as alpaca products, specialty yarns, and accessories. My sister is a talented knitter and has become quite the expert to whom other knitters come for guidance. Constant forward motion, always growing and learning.
As I go back even further, I recall that my maternal grandparents also embraced new things as they grew older. When I was a child, my grandparents owned a farm with cows and horses.
They purchased their farm in their 40s, transitioning from their entrepreneurial town pursuits, where they had owned a flower shop for several decades. They were also artists. I can
remember my grandfather carving birds out of wood. His basement workshop always smelled of the woodburning tool he used to make realistic, intricate feathers to insert into his ducks,
geese, and chickadees. My grandmother took up oil painting, capturing scenes of the family cabin in the mountains, her children and the bird carvings that my grandfather made. She painted my favorite stuffed animal on my child-sized rocking chair for my third birthday. Every member of my extended family has at least one of their creations. All of this happened after the age of 50.
I had some pretty amazing role models! So…when I turned 50, in the middle of a pandemic, while struggling with career indecision and living in a new town…I embraced it! I changed career direction and found my voice. I wish I would have known on my 30th birthday that life doesn’t end in your 30s, and that you never actually know it all nor do you have it all together. Far from it! Continuing to grow, learn, and try new things is what keeps you young. Maybe the example my mom and grandparents set helped me along my current path. I knew farming and carving/painting/pottery would not be my jam. But writing is my jam. Coaching is also my jam. Helping others cast a vision toward what can be next, at any age, is definitely my jam. I know that I will continue to look for opportunities to grow and learn and experience new things. Who knows what my 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond will hold? But I do know that I will be open to what comes my way and will grow into what might be next.
You can find out more about Candice and her work at www.candicesuarez.com.