Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

The Disquiet in Men

Helping men who feel something missing in their lives

What is the deal with turning 50?

I am approaching my 50th birthday. I have been really surprised at how I have been reacting to this. When I turned 49, I remember declaring how I would make this birthday a blow-out celebration and do all kinds of wild, outrageous things to mark the occasion.

I had heady ideas of becoming one of those guys that people are shocked to find out their age. “Dave is….50?…No way”. It’s embarrassing to admit.

But as time went on, I sensed an uneasiness. What was it? I didn’t know for sure.

First there were thoughts about where I should have been in my life by the time I hit 50:
Big house, big job, big salary. At the top of my game and playing big.

At Christmas, I received a bunch of those family newsletter-type letters from friends. You know, brag sheets on all that they have accomplished, what they do for fun and how great life is. I really started stewing. Reading so-and-so was now a VP or how they vacation at their second home on an island every winter. Was that supposed to be me? I felt a strange surge of envy and shame at the same time.

And I am not even all that materialistic. God knows I don’t want that lifestyle. So what’s really going on?

I kept hanging in and listening to my insides. Sometimes I got really sad that “the first half of my life ending”. But wait a minute! My halfway point happened probably 15 years ago! So what is this about it being a midpoint? It’s not. So that doesn’t even make sense.

There have been times I found myself getting obsessive about my health. Making promises and resolutions to eat better, exercise more and manage my stress. There was lots of angst and swearing I would do better each time I fell off the wagon, but that wasn’t it either. A low-grade anxiety kept rumbling.

I’ve kept poking at it. I pay attention to the thoughts that arise late at night or when I first wake and I’ve discovered that underneath the surface, deep down, there are lots of thoughts about dying. Being gone from this life. Knowing there is more behind than ahead.

Ok, so a piece of this is about mortality.

But why at 50? Why is this one some sort of tipping point?

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18 Responses to “What is the deal with turning 50?”

  1. Ron Says:

    Dave, I passed that 50 tipping point 15 years ago and had exactly the same reflections as you. I have now had them again at 60 and 65. We don’t need to reinvent ourselves but we need to act on some of the positives that come from the reflection: eat better, exercise, etc. While it is about mortality, why not extend the inevitable a little?

  2. Pamela Says:

    We shouldn’t be worried about the accomplishments we didn’t meet. There’s nothing else you could do about the past. On the other hand, we should be more concerned about our present condition and how to build up things for the future

  3. Dave Schoof Says:

    Thanks Ron – it’s interesting that it pops up again.

    Pamela – You are right and no matter how much we learn that is the way to go, attachments bubble up don’t they.

  4. Stuart Baker Says:

    Dave, I suspect that you are now hitting your stride much more now than you were several years ago, and the world is a better place for it. Everything that you did and did not do has helped lead up to today. Keep it up!

  5. Lisa Says:

    hi Dave-
    I will be 50 in 2 months. I find it shocking, although somewhat exhilirating.I want to believe that it holds surprised and treasures that we are not aware exist until we move into that developmental place. Every big milestone and decade has brought major shifts, and gifts. I think I would be completely embracing ALL of the promise of that if it wasn’t for all my fears around the physical- women often become somewhat invisible as they age, and I don’t want that. I also have not put much energy into trying to fight aging, other than good self care and being myself.
    Still- no matter how you cut it, 50 is a big deal. I don’t know why-I do not want any big celebrations. As I age my life becomes smaller and more intimate , more deliberate in terms of who I share it with.
    Still have a couple of months to decide how to welcome the decade.
    when is your actual birthday???

  6. Jpan Says:

    It is strange how ones’ outlook on life changes as the years fly by.In a way you start thinking more of yourself than others, in what you have done and hope to do. Where do I fit in life now, why has it changed so much, and what will I do in the future? Can reaching 50 really change things that much? No, it is just a number but it does make us stop and think about what we do for the rest of the time that we have. In some ways maybe this should have happen before 50!

  7. MrKlaatu Says:

    Take the RealAge Test.

  8. Dave Schoof Says:

    Stuart – thanks. Lisa – well said! I know what you mean – I don’t want big blowout celebrations. I really like what you say about it becoming smaller and more intimate. I can sense that as well. I find myself wanting to be much more deliberate and discriminating on what I focus and spend my energy on. Good insights – thanks.

  9. Dave Schoof Says:

    Jpan – good point. There is a more going inward isn’t there? You are right – if we could do that earlier in life…how it might be different?

  10. Dave Schoof Says:

    THe real age test is fun. I was surprised I did better than I thought – it had me at 51. I was worried it might have been 72!

  11. Rhea Says:

    When the first person in my circle of friends turned 50 I breathed a sigh of relief, as I knew it wouldn’t be ME for many years to come. Now I am 48 and a half. I think 50 is not young. 40, you can still fake it. 50, no.

  12. Dave Schoof Says:

    LOL – Rhea you are right about the faking part. My sincere hope – and I already suspect it’s true – is that you no longer care about needing to fake it 😉

  13. Engaging the Disquiet » Blog Archive » What do you mean 50 isn’t 30? Says:

    Click on the link above to read a related article.

  14. Jessica W. Says:

    Ok….is it disturbing to anyone else that I am doing the same thing Dave is doing…only I’m stressing about turning 30 and how different my life is from the majority of my friends? What I wouldn’t give to have that part of my brain “removed” that compares myself to others! Maybe I’ll wish for that when I blow out my 29th birthday candles!

  15. Dave Schoof Says:

    Hi Jessica – I howled when I read your post – you are sooo right. When you find that lobotomy procedure, give me a shout. I bet we can get a group discount! Seriously – BRAVO for following your own path. It can be hard to do alone so find good folks to reflect back who you are along the way. Cheers!

  16. Engaging the Disquiet » Blog Archive » What do you mean 50 isn’t 30? Says:

    […] OK, so as I continue to spar and dance with my current surge of Disquiet, turning 50; I added some napalm to the fire: […]

  17. Dave in OH Says:

    I know it’s five years on … just wondering how you’re doing. One of the things that seemed to come through in your post is that you don’t think there’s anything after “this life”. As a man of faith (and also on the north side of 50), I can tell you that knowing there’s more to life (after our physical body dies) is quite heartening. I’ve never worried about decade milestones … not 30, 40, or most recently a year ago, 50. For what’s it’s worth, give Jesus a try … I promise, you’ll be surprised!

  18. Greg Rydeen Says:

    I just turned 51 and it seems I appreciate and respect a few things more these days such as women and children. Also I am more proud then ever I served honorably in the armed forces and survived various life pain and traumas. But nevertheless, I have truly done the best I could with what God has given me!! Every day is precious!!

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