I embarked on my 50th year in a fit of melancholy. Nothing fit; nothing satisfied. My coffee was bitter and did little to clear my muddled head. Is this how the last half of my life will be, I thought. And immediately thought, who says you have a half left? Somehow, that didn’t cheer me up.
On the way to work, I did notice the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the flowers were blooming. Yeah, yeah, it is spring after all. I couldn’t shake the blahs or blues or whatever this was.
Like any good first-born child and English major, I thought a little analysis was in order. I asked myself what was making me feel so miserable. What about turning 50 was messing with my head so much? It’s just a number, right? Silence. So much for self-analysis.
People wished me well. I smiled, thanked them and ducked my head to stew quietly in my emotional and mental funk.
All the internal whining in the world was not going to make me feel better. And the external whining would just make me sound shallow and vain. “Just get through this day, just get through this day ...” became my mantra, followed closely by “Suck it up, buttercup.”
Oh yeah, I am really aging gracefully. Maybe I should just go gray and move into a shack somewhere and scare all the local children to death.
The day after my birthday, I still don’t understand why I allowed a number to make me so miserable.
Well, it isn’t the number, really, but what the number stands for. It did occur to me at some point during my milestone birthday that the number 50 is perceived differently in different parts of the world and even differently among women and men.
While men over 50 have been serenaded by the media as sophisticated and at their highest earning potential, my AARP-eligible female friends and I have been banished to the insignificant outer fringes of the land called Forever-Young.
You cannot escape the media, and we all know about supermodels, airbrushing and cosmetic surgery.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “This is how the other half lives,” but the truth is that they are not the other half. They are a minority who rule the majority of the airwaves. That still makes them seem like the majority.
Without deep pockets, personal trainers, specially trained chefs and professional photographers who love us, the actual majority of normal women do not stand a chance.
My personal paparazzo is my teenage daughter who never fails to capture me with a fresh-from-bed-head look, in my robe, slouched into the position that most makes me look like I gained 40 pounds overnight. I know those photos are going straight to Facebook or Snapchat. The National Enquirer and TMZ have nothing on her.
I have no answers for the angst and dilemmas of milestone birthdays. The only conclusion I have drawn from this experience is that it is all in my head. Maybe 50 is just a number and not necessarily a reason to add the funeral home to my speed-dial settings.
I should probably touch up my roots though, just in case. I don’t want people wondering what my hairdresser was thinking as they stand over my casket.
Veronica L. Rea of Varnville is a former school teacher and now works with her husband, Tony, in their chiropractic business. They have three children.