I follow Seth Godin on Twitter and read his blog posts. I don’t think the man is the guru some make him out to be, but he does often make sense. This recent post caught my eye–Fifty is the New Thirty. What caught my eye in particular was this:
“…we’re living much longer and careers are becoming more flexible and it’s pretty clear that in just about every cultural respect, fifty year olds are living, acting and looking more like thirty year olds every day…It changes the marketing of every service and product aimed at consumers–and yet most traditional advertisers are stuck in the mindset that thirty is the end of your chance to find a new customer or build a new brand.”
This struck a chord with me and immediately brought to mind a book I cataloged recently–The Facebook Guide for People Over 50. I remember thinking about the title and feeling vaguely insulted, and I just couldn’t relate to the need for a “special” Facebook guide directed to people my age and older.
So Godin’s comments on the cultural and marketing aspects associated with being 50 make a lot of sense to me. I dreaded turning 50. In my mind, 50 marked the beginning of “old” age. But now that I am 50, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I love being 50 because it is a privilege to grow older and every stage of life brings its own challenges, rewards, opportunities, discoveries, and sadness. But I don’t feel 50 if there is a way to feel at any age.
I clearly remember my mother-in-law–at around age 75–saying that she sometimes looked at herself in the mirror trying to figure out where that old person came from because inside she still felt like she was in her twenties. I can also think of people who have been old since birth.
When you think about it, a number is a pretty arbitrary means by which to define a mindset, which is what age is really all about. I’m aware that there are physical and mental realities associated with aging, but I no longer see 50 as some sort of dividing line between youth and old age. Fifty isn’t the new thirty. It isn’t the beginning of the end. And it isn’t something to be feared. Fifty is just fifty. It’s up to you what do with it.