Saturday, March 6, 2021

Turning 50: Let's Do This!

Why 50 Lessons of 50 Years?  As I get ready to turn fifty-years-old on April 25  I am noticing that so many people, especially gay men and women, are unwilling to share how old they are.  It seems bizarre to me that after surviving two global pandemics that anyone would hesitate to proudly declare their chronological age.  Yet despite their beautiful resilience, an abundant amount of people express shame and dread about doing the most natural thing any of us can do: get older.

Several years ago I wrote a book titled “Absolutely Should-less,” which was intended to offer tools for managing depression, anger, and anxiety by challenging and eliminating harmful “shoulds.” What I had not anticipated was how deeply certain “shoulds” (and “should not’s”) could run about aging.  The ideas, “you should look younger, you should not have wrinkles, you should stay thin, you should not get gray hair, you should not have body hair, you should act your age...” are fed into our synapses very early in life. Often times we don’t realize we are internalizing these messages from media, culture, family, society, yet their effects are evident.  If you have ever judged yourself for getting older, gotten worried about a wrinkle, criticized yourself about gaining weight, or felt dread about an upcoming birthday, then you have been conditioned to believe toxic notions of aging. 

As my own “50” mark approaches, I am excited and energized.  Both AIDS and the COVID crises have been painful and devastating, but they have also afforded me such a deeper sense of gratitude that I get to live to see another decade.  Getting older has continuously enabled me to experience power, purpose, and pleasure  in a way I could not have foreseen in my 20s, 30s, or 40s.    

When I saw that was not the general consensus of most of my friends and clients, I wondered why in the world I was embracing something others dreaded? Was there something I had learned along the way that has made this process joyful? Is there something about the accumulating of numbers that brought meaning? And could the lessons I’ve learned help others? 

We're about to find out.  Over the next 50 days I'm posting the 50 Lessons I've learned so I can laugh, so I can breathe, so I can connect, so I can relax.  I hope they help you too. 

 Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist helping individuals and couples enjoy life with peace, purpose, and pleasure. His books "Absolutely Should-less" and "Rational Relating" help people experience connection with joy, serenity, and meaning. His work has been featured on CNN Health, The NY Times, MSNBC, USA Today and more. He can be reached at or 347-227-7707.

No comments:

Post a Comment