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At 69, in lockdown with the big 7-0 bearing down on me, I came into my own. The public health establishment told me I was old--so old I shouldn’t go outside lest I end up on a respirator. But I felt vigorous and resilient. I discovered it felt good to clean my own home, blocking out the shape of my book as I buzzed around. I turned cooking dinner into an adventure and served new recipes with a sense of ceremony. My husband and I, coming up to our fiftieth anniversary, would hold hands as we finished the wine and remark on how lucky we were to have each other and the home we’d made. I thought often of those who were alone, sleeping rough or struggling to look after children in a tight space, and I felt for those people. For the first time in my life, I understood that I had everything I needed. Although I missed traveling, I made discoveries on every walk with my dog. I had only to notice what had changed since yesterday. Without leaving home, I went somewhere new every morning. Today, at 73, I hold my pandemic memories close. My 70s have humbled me. I rarely experience a day without pain. I can’t walk as far or as fast as I did a few years ago. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to live one’s life on a single city block. It could happen to me, an unsettling thought. If it does I will find my way. I’m old enough to know what a lot I can make of a little.

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Great perspective, Rona. <3

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I too came into my own during the pandemic just as I reached 65. My private world had just collapsed, mimicking the chaos of the external world. On the cusp of the pandemic my beloved home went into foreclosure, my husband had ravaged our finances due to diagnosed cognitive deficits. Sheltering in place in a place that was precarious with an abusive husband was challenging. Putting the pieces together and creating a new life now fell on me. Yet in the isolation and quiet of the pandemic I was able to plan and come into my own. It allowed the best of me to come through.

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Oh, Sally. Loss upon loss. I'd rather face a pandemic alone than trapped with an abusive husband. But here you are, knowing what it takes to rebuild your life and knowing you're up to the challenge.

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Thank you Rona. Going through these kinds of losses in the isolation of the pandemic, without the benefit of a human hug made it that more poignant, but I did rebuild and I am flourishing at 67. It did give me the confidence of what I was capable of, of what we are all capable of. It gave me back my voice.

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Oct 26, 2022·edited Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

The older I get, the more humbled I become. I'm 55 now, and I can truthfully say I've never had a career, nor am I likely ever to get one. I mention the idea of having a career because I think that's how society judges men; by their ability to make money. You can be sensitive, funny, attractive, etc., but if you can't demonstrate the ability to make money, you're a failure. How many poor, sensitive men are you friends with? Probably none. I realize this might be a superficial way of looking at things, but as I compare myself to all my current male friends, and I see the arc of their professional and financial lives ever rising, it's hard not to feel bitter. I have a job (three, in fact), a happy marriage, and two wonderful adult children. I've been a pretty good husband and father. But as I begin to test the waters of the current job market, I realize I'm on the downward slope of my working life. Ageism feels very real. I can't make it past the first round of interviews. I feel like potential employers look at my resume, see that I gradated from college during the last century, and toss my application in the recycle bin. This never used to happen. So I fall back on the cliched mental trick of "enjoying the little things in life;" making coffee, going for a walk, reading a book. But it's not enough. If I'm honest, I probably "came into my own" (peaked?) when I was a sophomore at Syracuse University. I was only there for one semester before transferring, but I blazed like a comet across the sky, falling in and out of love many times, and basically just trying to suck the marrow out of life. One night, I was at a bar. It was on the second floor of a building, so you could look out the window at the twinkling lights of the downtown Syracuse skyline while you drank your weak gin and tonic out of a clear plastic cup. I had just gotten a haircut I was really proud of, probably the best haircut of my life, short on the back and sides, kind of long and floppy in front, very Echo and the Bunnymen. A girl, a stranger, approached me at the end of the night. She reached up and brushed the hair back from my eyes, her fingers touching my forehead. She smiled and said she was only in town for one night. Nothing happened. I left the bar pretty quickly after that. I realize she was probably drunk, and I'm sure I was too. But I've thought about that moment many times. At one point in my life, a stranger found me beautiful. That might be the peak, right there.

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What a powerful recollection! FWIW, Brian and I are both sensitive...and perennially broke. Always working hard, always struggling nonetheless. Terrible at the game of capitalism.

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Thank you, Sari. Same.

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

Write that in a short story and start your new career as a writer!

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

What a poignant reminder that sexism knows no gender -- and ageism starts far earlier than we realize. Thank you for sharing your thoughts -- I found them incredibly powerful and thought-provoking.

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Thanks for sharing this, Michael. You share truth that many of us have known! I didn't have a "career" until I was 40 and got a Masters in Social Work so that I could actually make a living and feed myself and my children, knowing I was about ready to embark on single parenthood. An emotionally abusive marriage had already put an end to my confidence in trying to establish myself as a writer. All I wanted was to be able to pay the bills and take care of my kids. Now that I'm approaching 65, retired from social work, and getting ready to celebrate 20 years of a successful 2nd marriage, I am here to say that the most important things in life have nothing to do with career, but everything to do with loving others and being loved by others, and being a vital and caring part of a larger community. What is a "career" anyway? Our society puts so much emphasis on "career" and their status. It's sad really. Do what you love most with the people you love most! Nothing else matters. Potential employers might be tossing your resume into the bin, but look at this way: you've got more freedom and power to do what you want because those same potential employers no longer have power over you. What I love about 65 is that I finally don't care anymore what people who don't know me think about me. And those who love me, love me for what I truly am. At last I am finally free to be whatever I want to be!

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Thank you, Hope. I’m hopeful (no pun intended) :) that as I age a little bit, these feelings will pass. Everything you say is true. I have a wonderful spouse, 25 years of marriage, and two amazing adult children. Actually, maybe THIS is the peak!

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deletedOct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton
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I wish I didn't feel that way, and maybe if I was more "successful" by societal standards I wouldn't, but today, at this point in my life, that's how I feel . Thanks for your comment.

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Being 60 won't matter to you. You are beautiful and healthy and will be beautiful and I hope healthy in three years. What will matter is the social perception of women as they age and the towering sexism and misogyny that drives it. I hope it will be your wish to keep speaking publicly about social perceptions of women at all ages, and the way these perceptions are ignorant and brutal. That's what we can do as we age, keep talking about it to other women and help them feel less stigmatized and erased.

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Yes, 100%. (And thank you.) <3

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Oct 26, 2022·edited Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I first felt humbled at around 2 or 3. I will be 72 next year and I have not yet "come into my own." Maybe it will happen before I croak, maybe not. I don't really care. I just go on living.

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<3

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Being 80 is so much more fun than I thought it would be! I understand life in a new delightful way and I have a courage and self acceptance that I had not found before. Who knows what I will find next!

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That's amazing! Thank you for sharing that.

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If "coming into your own" could be classified as an epiphany, I've had three. The first was at age 31, when a friend convinced me that I did not need to have a job. That led to many decades of self-employment, for which I'll be forever grateful. My second was at age 64, when I felt the time was right to close our retail store and end the 25 year interruption to my career as a software developer. The most recent, and probably final, epiphany was at age 70. Retirement gave me the time to do the research that led me to discovering the importance of diet and nutrition. Lifestyle changes removed 60 pounds and a lifetime of severe allergies, as well as bringing mental clarity and memory that I did not have at 20. I've just turned 75, and can honestly say that these are the best years of my life. My high school sweetheart, now wife of 53 years, and I enjoy each day to the fullest, prescription-free and healthier than most of our neighbors. I am humbled at this outcome, and the changes it has made in me.

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I love that this has happened more than once for you!

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

What was the first age that humbled me? (What a great question.) The answer is, 56. Up until that point, I had unknowingly relied on youth and appearance to grant me entree in work situations -- I just thought I was smart and worked hard, so I had naturally succeeded. But at 56, I started a new job in a new faraway city, and I was shocked to see the looks on the (entirely) younger set of new colleagues' faces. I could see they thought I was old. They were dismissive. It shocked me. And yes, I won them over, but it wasn't automatic and I wasn't adored and they periodically reminded me in subtle ways that I was not one of them.

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Wow. <3

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Turned 60 this year and, honestly, it's weird. The clocks, calendars, and sunsett move faster. I am at once coming into my own -- doing the things I've always wanted to do -- and freaking the f*** out.

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Two sides of a coin! I totally get it.

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What a great thought, the idea of “coming into your own.” The age that makes me pause is 65, which I cross in 3 months. I came into my own in a big when I turned 55, divorced for the second time and a single father to three teenagers from my first marriage. I felt very strongly that there was something about me that I had never allowed myself to know. I’ve been open to discovering that ever since. Turning 65 feels like a moment when I will cross into new territories. When society will truly see me as old. I always wondered why older people hung out together. It seemed boring to me. But now I see the value of knowing people who share that mysterious knowledge -- and strange decay-- that comes with aging.

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Well said, Stephen.

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

When I turned 40, it seemed like the first time I didn’t need a party or a big celebration to mark such a big milestone. I had just given birth to my twin daughters a few months earlier. Weeks before that, we had bought out loft apartment in Brooklyn (first real estate purchase). And I had just made partner at the tiny little law firm where I had worked for years. I felt for the first time that I had so much to be thankful for, even if we were doing our best to keep our heads above water financially--being a partner also meant that partners didn’t get paid if we didn’t bill enough to cover the payroll. It was somewhat chaotic at the time (being a litigator and a mom was not so easy, although I discovered, surprisingly, that being a working mom felt right) and so much disruption came along a short time after (including one of my law partners dying shortly after being diagnosed with lung cancer and a burst pipe that required us to redo the floors and move all contents of our apartment into storage). Nevertheless, I felt then and, looking back, still feel today that it all came together at that point for me.

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I love this. Thanks for sharing, Jen.

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73 here. It happened more than once. Looking forward to it happening a few more times.

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I love knowing this can happen more than once!

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I'll be 50 next year, and it feels like a kind of powerful gift that comes with great responsibility, y'know? Like, I need to point that thing in the right direction, nourish it with a new source of energy, and tend to it carefully. I don't know if that's "coming into my own" so much as "owning the things I've learned to be true, and transforming them into some kind of supple yet powerful wisdom" (that's what I want for all women, actually: that we accumulate as much wisdom as possible and create venues to share it with each other and the larger world). Or maybe I'll just write a novel!?

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Yes to accumulating wisdom and sharing it. And also to writing a novel!

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Ha, thanks! Right now a novel seems like a huge mountain, but a memoir feels more like a nice easy hill so maybe I'll give that a shot first.

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Yes, I get that. Good luck!

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Thanks, and thanks for publishing my first chapter ;)

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My pleasure!

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I just turned 62. Sixty was the daunting birthday for me, and I now consider myself officially not young. I work and play harder than ever while feeling the responsibility of helping my children and parents. The context changes but not the love (and worry).

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I hit 50 last year. That was the first time that my age really stopped me in my tracks - a first "woah, that's actually super-old, isn't it?!".

But what followed it was an oddly dizzying burst of gratitude to where I am right now - writing stuff I'm really enjoying and making a fairly-okay living from it, for the first time since I started a decade ago. So it was the first time that I felt like the clock had stopped ticking down, and maybe was either paused, or....ticking up? A nice feeling, that sense of the chronological horizon backing away again and maybe giving me enough room to get a bit more ambitious with my life again. (I mostly lost that ambition while dealing with traumatic family stuff from 2015 onwards, a time when I just went into survival mode to get through it).

But I wonder how different it is for men. I wonder that a lot, and wonder how much I need to learn re. other people's experience of advancing time, especially women, who have to deal with pressures and expectations (and prejudices and judgements) that we men can ignore if we choose to.

So while I can say I feel I've "come into my own" at the age of 51, I fully understand if absolutely nobody else cares! (Writing all this out has definitely made me feel weird, like I'm bragging or something? Yikes.)

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Doesn't sound like bragging to me, Mike. Sounds like taking stock. Thank you.

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Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

I’m grateful for Sari’s* honesty and for everyone else’s heartfelt comments. I’m reading this post sitting in a salon chair in mid-town Manhattan while the stylist from Japan applies dye to cover my gray — including the brows.

When she shampoos & massages my head, I will close my eyes & let my thoughts drift. A hot towel bolsters my neck. I’m 63 and it’s the closest I come to feeling that I’ve come into my own.

*Sari, I love your bangs. I’ve had a ponytail since high school.

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Thank you, Debra! 💕

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Oct 26, 2022·edited Oct 26, 2022Liked by Sari Botton

When I turned 58 I was in the best shape of my life and happy but somehow surprised to be getting so old and really thought I looked younger. I was with two friends, one of whom did not just love me, and we were having a little coffee and birthday treats and my one friend said "How old are you this year?" And I said "I cannot believe I'm 58" and my friend said, "Wow, I can't either you look so good. " And the other woman chimed right in, looking at my friend, and said, "I thought you said you thought she was 60!" It was like SLAP. SLAP to both of us! What a meanie, but impressive, got us both in one blow!

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With friends like that...

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