50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life 

| July 31, 2018 | 0 Comments | Email This Post Email This Post

Starting Over

by Maria Leonard Olsen, author of

50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2018)

50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life

At age 49, I got sober and divorced. At age 50, I rebuilt my life. The new beginning, despite the attendant pain, was good for me. I lived alone for the first time. I learned the important lesson that had eluded me during the previous decades of my life—no one was responsible for my happiness but me.  

Before this point in my life, I had searched for happiness externally. If I was receiving attention and accolades, I felt good about myself. But I needed to believe in my own worth before I could really thrive, let alone be a good partner for anyone else.  

I always had been a compassionate person…towards everyone but myself. Instead of dwelling on regret for the mistakes I had made, I set out at age 50 to find out what truly made me happy. I went back to practicing law part-time. I sold belongings I no longer needed on eBay and Craigslist, or at consignment stores. I changed my buying habits, seeking experiences over things. My life became leaner, but more personally fulfilling. I chose to spend time with people who brought out the best in me and to be more intentional about how I spent my time.  

I learned the difference between being alone and being lonely. I actually like my own company now, whereas I previously had eschewed it out of fear that I would become introspective. I would rather not have to look within because I did not like what was there…until now.   

I was somewhat anxious about returning to work as an attorney after taking 15 years off to raise my children. I took another state’s bar exam to bring me up to speed on basic legal principles. It increased my confidence to pass another bar exam after my break. Those of us with more life perspective are often better at our jobs for no other reason than we have been around longer in this life. I believe my people skills were better than those of my younger colleagues, and I was much less nervous when in the courtroom than I had been as a young lawyer. I could view the judge as another human and keep things in a manageable perspective.  

Going back to work and making my own money again was renewing and affirming. Even if I had taken a server or clerk-type of job, the boost to my self-esteem would have been detectable. Being self-sufficient elevates one’s estimation of themselves. 

We are never too old to try something new. In fact, every day we awaken provides an opportunity for each of us to learn something and to contribute something. We can each bloom where we are planted and make the world a better place because we were here.

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