This post originally appeared on Medium here
Congratulations! You made it through the minefield that is youth and early adulthood. Intermingled with all the good times, delightful discoveries, achievements and joys, there were also false starts, dead ends, frenemies and unwelcome life lessons galore. Guess what? Now it’s time to move on to the next station on this journey through life. The great thing about this phase is that you are far from unprepared. In fact, you finally have advantages you may not even be aware of. Embrace them! And use them to make the second part of your life far better than the first one.
I could list a lot more than 10 gifts that time bestows upon those of us over 50 that are actually super tools for better life quality, but here are some of the best:
1. You don’t care what other people think
Boohooing over people who dislike you is over. You just avoid those folks and don’t even think about them. You will walk through fire for what you believe in because you can’t be asked to not be yourself. There is just no pay-off big enough or meaningful enough to carry on with faking this or that. It’s incredibly ok to not be in agreement with everyone, even the people you love or respect. Other people’s opinions no longer govern or dictate how you live.
2. You dare
You know that the worst thing that could happen is not the end of the world. And even if it is, you will survive that, too.
3. You have learned to enjoy your own company
You may even discover that you crave alone time. Then you begin to require it. Hell, sometimes your own company is about all you can stand.
4. You are no longer in the beauty pageant
Think of all the hours you spent in your more youthful days desperately seeking that one magical shade of lipstick or the perfect split skirt that would reveal just enough thigh to make you look enticing, but not easy. Remember how vital it seemed to look as amazing as possible at practically every hour of the day in order to satisfy “the gaze”? And the competition was grim, mean-spirited andrelentless.Well, now you are off the radar screen of everyone, male or female, under 50. This means you can focus on the things you discovered are actually important. The freedom of this cannot be underestimated.
5. You know what’s actually important
Your earlier days were spent living like a pinball inside a brightly-lit machine full of noise where you were batted around aimlessly for reasons you could never quite sort out. But you were actually the driver of that situation because it was all about your process of trying on different goals, lifestyles, relationships, personas and endless variations of everything else. Which seemed important at the time. That you now laugh about. You thought you needed a PR-generating career, a beach house in Miami, an Italian sports car and the world at your feet. Now you know all you truly need is a peaceful, secluded room with a secure lock, your private blanket, a glass of wine and a good book.
6. You have a highly-developed bullshit meter
Thanks to all the years of stumbling, fumbling and fool’s gold stampedes, your eyes are wide open and your palate is officially jaded. Whether it is political promises, infomercials, cosmetics, the latest fad, weight loss programs or slick life hacking apps, your pulse simply refuses to rise in excitement. You have seen snake oil come and snake oil go. F*ck snake oil.
7. You realize you are not immortal and the clock is ticking
This means you are forced to decide what your personal agenda on this planet really is and how badly you actually want it. If you are not willing to make it a priority and sacrifice for it, it falls off the list in favor of the things you actually burn for. Whether your dream is to bring clean water to the remote villages of a foreign country, to establish an animal rescue shelter in your county or finally bake the perfect souffle, you begin to realize it is just about time to get on with putting that plan into action. If it is ever going to happen. You recognize that you have been put on notice.
8. Your hustle is deep
You remember that time before the internet when you just had to be resourceful. You know there is more than one way to skin a cat — and thoroughly. You don’t expect instant results or feel that the world owes you a living and all the avocado toast you desire, so you don’t deal in magical thinking. You know that defeat is usually a speed bump, not a roadblock. You show up willing to do the work you know it will take to get what you want, and then some. You plunge forward because you know that there is really no other option, even if you might have to go sideways temporarily. But just until you figure it out. Which you will.
9. You have learned when to walk away and not bother
It takes years of entering conversations that were never going to lead to anyplace good before you recognize when you are teetering on the edge of falling into one of them again and pull yourself back from the brink. If you are 50 years old and still trying to change your mother’s mind about something, this list may not reflect your stage in life at all.
10. You know tomorrow is another day.
If you have gotten this far in life with any measure of success, Scarlett O´Hara is pretty much your spirit animal by now. So her final line in Gone With The Wind resonates with you. You really get it. You understand the sinking of her world-weary shoulders, her frantic, tearful desperation dwindling down to wistful longing, her frank recognition that the battle of the moment is over and that she will have to withdraw from the field. For the day, anyway. She has hardly given up, but it’s time for a little gathering in and reflection before resuming the war. Like Scarlett, you have learned to accept that setbacks are inevitable, but that you are resilient. That there will be something to carry on for or with. At some of the roughest moments in life, you sometimes need to put the burden down and just take a nap or something before you resume the struggle. Getting that lesson down means you have figured out when to pause for a moment and hit the reset button.