It is a blessing to be age 50 and over, no one would dare debate this. After reaching middle age and moving forward, quite a bit of time is devoted to reflection. You tend to perhaps wistfully review where you came from, what you’re doing presently and how you plan on continuing your path in life. A philosopher might say that every single experience matters because it morphs into history or experience, and eventually, life itself. Contemplation can be so cathartic. Now that you’ve lived a bit and hopefully, learned a lot, and view life with more understanding, wisdom, what would you tell your younger self? We asked a few 50BOLDers…
I would tell my younger self to always be kind, to cultivate your inner kindness in thoughts and feelings towards others. Let the good in your heart be what people see. Kind people are more likely to be on the receiving end of kindness.
On the flip side, I would also advise myself to stop trying to save for retirement with a 401K plan and instead, save up for a good plastic surgeon. The stock market does go up and down like crazy but this does not mean that your face and body has to follow suit!
–Patricia Alexander, age 59, Sunrise, FL
It seems, liking your partner takes more work and action than loving them for life; I firmly believe this is also the foundation for a strong marriage. So I would advise my younger self to marry someone you really like and then grow into loving her.
–Fred Harris, age 60, Dallas, TX
I would tell my younger self to take heed of that Godly inner voice to find strength, insight, and transformation! It will clear negativity, stress, and unclutter life’s path. It will definitely let you know what’s best for any situation. It’s your compass…your directional force and will never lead you astray!
I would also encourage my younger self to stay the course and not be intimidated or afraid of obstacles or negative people. If you think you can do something grand in life, then you will; if you think you can’t, then you won’t. I would tell myself to stop talking about what you’re going to do and just do it but prepare accordingly. I would constantly remind my younger self… ‘if you believe, then you can achieve.’ Nothing is impossible!
–Eric Waltower, age 59, Brooklyn, NY
I would encourage myself to get the best education possible, to shoot for an ivy league school so that employers seek you, rather than you seek them. Ivies are considered the crème de la crème. Each university has a different approach to education, but each opens doors to opportunities unavailable to students at other colleges. An ivy league education can be a one-way ticket to a great job at a top global firm.
–Glenn Jones, age 64, Los Angeles, CA
Over the years I have questioned if whether or not marrying or having children was the right decision for me, now, I can honestly say I have no regrets in this area. So I would tell my younger self to not overthink your emotions and to go with your gut feeling especially when it comes to matters of the heart. If a relationship does not feel right to you don’t try to force emotions that are not present. I would stress to myself that feelings are absolutely our gauge of well-being. I would also drive the point home that it takes courage to take charge of your own life, make your own decisions, and not be swayed by others’ opinions about what’s important to you.
–Cleve Wilson, age 57, Saluda, SC
My younger self would certainly receive a solid talking to about saving money. I would also get him motivated and excited about traveling because it gives the mind a creative boost, and opens it up to new, more exciting opportunities. I would encourage him to secure a passport and to get out and see what this globe has to offer. I did not even know what a hostel was until I was well into adulthood and these establishments offer travelers on a budget inexpensive food and accommodations. So there is no real reason to just sit back and watch travel channels on TV when you can get out and experience the world in real time!
–Tony Clark, age 53, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I would tell my younger self to not miss out on lucrative opportunities. When I was a younger woman working for a fashion magazine, I was offered the chance to work for a millionaire celebrity. I rejected the celeb’s offer because I had allegiance to my employer. In hindsight, my loyalties and fears kept me from advancing my career and from making a hefty salary, a move I regret to this day but I learned not to fear walking out on a limb.
–Barbara Henderson, age 61, Philadelphia, PA
If I could travel back in time, what would I tell my younger self? That’s a toughie. Since I’m so old, my answer would depend on just how far back I could go? If I were to talk to my kid self, I’d say, “Keep up the good work! Hold on to that adventurous spirit! I love that you’d rather be a Cub Scout than a Brownie! Life is to be lived! Keep playing and laughing!” If were to talk to my late teens- and-twenties-self I would say, “What happened?! Stir it up, girl. Stop playing it so safe. And stop being so self-conscious! You’re fine. You’ll see what real fat is in another decade or so.”
If I were talking to my thirties self, I think I’d pat myself on the back and say, “You’re finally using your noggin. Look at you! You’ve had some successes and should be proud. All that, and you’re still you. Congratulations!” If I were to talk to my 40’s self, I’d tell me to redirect my focus and stop worrying so much. “Your son is exceptional. He’ll be fine, despite you!” Talking to my 50’s-year-old self…well, I’m still trying to figure that one out.
–Barbara Brandon-Croft, age 58, Queens, NY
Standing up to your parents when you’re young is difficult but I would have advised my younger self to do so, especially when it came to selecting a career path. I wanted to pursue acting but instead, my parents felt that a much safer employment choice would be speech pathology. I regret that I failed to speak up about what I wanted to do artistically. I should have also been more driven, although at the time I thought I was. I allowed my parents to force me to let go of my dreams, hopes, and desires. Even though I am retired now with a pension, I am not truly fulfilled. I still long to act and sing but unfortunately, now, I am older and filled with self-doubt.
–Brian Alejandro Scott, age 55, New York, NY
I think every younger self should get a no-nonsense lesson on the value of saving and not spending foolishly! I would have advised myself to set up a proper savings plan that would have exponentially increased my earnings. If would have held onto the money I squandered away, I’d be rich!
–Dee King, age 67, Minneapolis, MN
I would tell my younger me to not do anything that would jeopardize your health later. No sex without protection. No basking in the sun for hours without using a sunscreen. No smoking. No hard alcoholic drinks. No pesticides in the garden. No overeating. No greasy fast foods. Not saying, “No, I’m too tired” when deciding to hit the gym!
–Rachelle Hartel, age 64, Detroit, MI