I attended my high school reunion the other night with over sixty other women who attended an all-girl parochial school in the 70’s.
I walked into the room greeted by the most beautiful, vibrant, animated, happy women I could imagine! These 50-somethings were no less than amazing!
Genuine “happy to see you” moments.
Delighted interest in each others’ lives.
Stories of hardship and survival.
Remembrances of those who have passed.
I was experiencing moments of real community – a quilt sewn together with memories of who we were and who we have become – strong bonds that cannot be broken.
As I began to think about those years, I realized we didn’t have the distraction of boys in high school – at least not in class or on the grounds. We could be who we were as young women, free to express ourselves without the burden of having to prove things to anyone but ourselves.
We could be smart and outspoken, leaders in our own right – not afraid to stand for something that compelled us to speak out. We had the time to see not only the outer beauty of the other young women around us, but really get to know their inner beauty.
We were aligned in our struggles as young women. We were working together to figure out how to thrive in a world that was vastly different from what our parents had experienced. We didn’t want their stories of female stereotypes and suppression of their heart’s desires to be our own.
We became scientists, nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, writers….
We were able to explore everything.
We had rules, lots of them! But they were often broken, or at least circumvented.
At the reunion, we had a room full of women whose stories were rich, unique and some filled with pain…….
Loss of a spouse.
Loss of a parent, sibling or other family member.
Surviving career challenges and job loss.
And then there were the stories of pure joy……
Delightful single lives.
Healthy and lovely grandchildren.
Talking to each person was like having an artist with a blank canvas in the room.
Each story inspired the artist to put another color of paint on the canvas – each detail providing inspiration for the shape and texture of the brush stroke.
At the end of the night, each of us had our own canvas complete with a compilation of lovely images of those with whom we had spent at least four years of our lives.
These lovely images were not a surprise for me. With each interaction, I saw what I remembered most about the young woman I knew then.
The twinkle in her eye.
The beautiful smile.
I saw it because it was still there. I saw the unfiltered natural gifts of that young woman I knew. The natural gifts we possess as children and young adults are still within us.
[Tweet “It’s up to us to keep showing up and allowing others to experience our gifts.”]
We thrive when we use those things that feel the most natural to us – not when we deny them.
So, the next time you see a woman and try to judge her based on her age, think again.
Each one of us possesses our own Personal Brilliance – those natural gifts that were present when we entered this world. We have our own stories – our personal canvas painting – one filled with expression from our life experiences.
50 might be the new 30 based on appearance, style, fitness, energy level, or any number of other factors, but don’t think for one second that being 50-something can be compared to any other younger decade.
The wisdom of the 50-something woman is indeed powerful. That’s why we can’t be underestimated. We are a force in our own right.
If you’re a 50-something woman, bask in the glow of this wisdom and share it freely with others. Mentor women who are younger than you. Make this world a better, more tolerant place.
If you’re a younger woman, seek out a 50-something mentor. It will be such a rewarding experience. It will deepen your appreciation for the women who blazed the trail before.
If you are married to or in a relationship with a 50-something woman, allow her to soar. Appreciate her wisdom, beauty, and ability to handle life’s challenges and come out on top.
And to all my 50-somethings from our reunion – I love and appreciate each of you and am so happy to have shared some of the precious years of my life with you.