1. At nearly 50, you will like yourself. I mean, really like yourself and you will know you are a good, nice person. You will be secure in you.
2. You will be patient. Not many people are patient at 20-something. It’s part of the natural aging process, I reckon — when you’re 20-something, you don’t really expect to ever acquire patience. But you will.
3. At nearly 50, you can stand people that don’t like you or wind you up. Instead of just ignoring them or telling them to fuck off, you actually relish the challenge of trying to make them revise their view on you, or yours on them. You will also like that you recognize a lost cause when you meet one and you just don’t bother with either strategy. You let them go.
4. You have amazing friends. Deep, deep friendships going back more than 40 years in some cases. These are people who have helped you through thick and thin. And vice versa. You know absolutely who you can and cannot rely on. It’s comforting to know who has your back. You don’t always know that when you’re 20-something.
5. Bad people don’t shock you anymore. They may still surprise you but you’re no longer bewildered and confused about the terrible behavior of others. You can usually work out a reason why. It won’t change a bad person but it really helps to understand.
6. You appreciate your family more. Even if you’ve always been a close family, when you’re younger, you take them for granted simply because you can. At nearly 50, your parents are likely to be nearly 80 if not already there. Now that is old.
7. You will still want to learn. When you’re 20-something, you might think you’re done with study but knocking on the door of 50, you crave learning again, you just want to know stuff before it’s too late to know it.
8. When you are nearly 50, you will want to pay it forward. You might want to change your career to something totally altruistic. Nursing, charity work, teaching — you will hope to be in a financial position to be able to afford that but if not, likely you’ll do it in your own time as a volunteer. You might run marathons, climb mountains, have cake sales…all to raise money for people more vulnerable than you.
9. At nearly 50, you realize that you are no longer invincible. When you’re 20-something, you risked your life without even knowing you were risking it — sky dives, bungee jumps, rickety bus rides in southeast Asia…’sure mom, we know what we’re doing.’ Well, you surely will at nearly 50. You become aware of your own mortality — that one day you really will die — and you feel like you‘d better pack it all in then in case it’s tomorrow!
10. You will have experienced tragedy by nearly 50 that you simply can’t contemplate at 20-something. You know that stat they quote at junior school that one in six of you in that classroom will get cancer? And you look ‘round when you’re 10 and think, wow — who? Well, at nearly 50, you know who. And their journey was tragic, and some of them, your school mates, didn’t make it. And at 20-something, you possibly never had experience of death. At nearly 50, you have. Frequently and often tragically.
11. At 20-something, you will be full of confidence and optimism about love and marriage and happy ever after. At nearly 50 you know that sometimes, happy ever after doesn’t happen. What’s more, you will be okay with that. People break their promises and let you down and sometimes just stop loving you. But you also know that every cloud has a silver lining. And even if life isn’t a fairy tale and that even if Prince Charming turned out to be the frog, life is pretty awesome and you will know how to live it.