Don’t Stop Believin’ – Or Achievin’

Is dreaming just for the young? How about following your dreams? Can we rebuild our lives – or build a new life – even when we are most definitely smack in the throes of middle age or… ahem… leaning towards the outer edges of it?

When I was younger, I had no qualms about trying something new, going on an adventure – whether that was a career, a move to a new home, a new town, an experience, what have you.

But now…

Whether it was growing up (ahhh… adulthood, not all it’s cracked up to be, I must say), growing old, or simply being stuck for years with someone else’s criticisms eating away at my brain, my heart, and my self-esteem that did me in, I have found myself more timid – quite indecisive actually – when it comes to making decisions that would take me out of my comfort zone, even when it would be in my best interest.

Recently I have been catching sight of that person that I used to be, that plucky, spirited individual willing to take risks, lurking around corners, trying to come out from the shadows (Hello there! Long time no see!) – and now I’m pondering – is dreaming just for the young?  Can older lives be torn down and rebuilt the way we want them to be?  Or do dreams have a shelf life?

I have dreams just like anyone else and I want to make those happen.  Sometimes I think it’s just too late. I’m just too old. The world is obsessed with youth. Everything – advertising, TV shows, movies – even news – all seem aimed at teenagers and twenty-somethings… thirty-somethings at the outside.

Is it any wonder that middle-aged folks might think that their best years have passed them by… that if they were going to achieve their dreams, whatever they may be, they’d have done it already? We’ve been indoctrinated to think so.

But then I think, surely I don’t have to be stuck here, in this part of my life, if I don’t want to be. If I can oust this echoing voice in my head… the one I’ve been listening to for too many years… the one that makes me doubt myself… then certainly I can do something with my life, to make my dreams a reality.  Something that’s meant for me.

Historically speaking, it’s not unheard of – this rethinking of one’s life at middle age or beyond.  Grandma Moses comes to mind. She was 78 when she started painting – 78! Prior to that she’d spent decades embroidering, but when arthritis made that too painful, she took up painting, and within a couple of years became a household name.

Or how about Julia Child? She was 40 years old when she started to learn French cooking, and 50 years old when she started her cooking show!

Ever hear of Phyllis Diller? She was 37 years old when she became a stand-up comedian.

Then there’s an author named Elizabeth Jolley. One year she got 39 rejection slips! How many people give up their attempt to write after that first awful rejection – and she kept going and going and going until finally, at the age of 56, her first novel was published. The rest is history.

If they can do it, so can I.  So can anyone.  Right?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to become a household name.  I want freedom, not fame.

The world cannot be just for the young. It simply cannot work that way. I’ve had dreams sitting on a shelf for some time, and it’s high time I started looking forward, not back.  At this point, there’s nothing holding me back but me.

28 thoughts on “Don’t Stop Believin’ – Or Achievin’

  1. Well said! The world is not solely for the young, particularly now that we’re all not dying off within years of having children. There’s plenty of time after the kids are grown and gone, or even just after they get independent enough so we’re not 24/7/365 parental units.

    It’s so easy to spend decades where life’s focus is so narrow that we almost forget that anything else exists. Kids, career, kids, adulthood, and kids – there goes twenty years!

    But the dreams are still there, and so is the younger, more adventurous you. I hope you continue to reacquaint yourself with her. Her enthusiasm and passion, combined with your hard earned wisdom and experience, can not only start chasing those dreams, but finding new ones as well.

    It can happen, but you’ve got to make it happen. Decades of hearing voices (your own and other’s) telling you to forget about those dreams creates a lot of entropy to overcome. But never believe that it can’t be done.

    I went back to school and got my MBA at 51, got my pilot’s license at 53, ran my first marathon at 55, and took that three-week Asia tour at 56. It won’t happen overnight, but you CAN get out there to kick some ass and take some names!

    • Ahhh, another motivator/role model to add to my list! You’ve achieved so much! I’ve always admired everything you write about and everything you’ve done. I didn’t realize they were dreams achieved later in life. I am definitely on the path to my new future, I’m steadily working on it. I have a lot of dreams to catch up with and new ones to put into place. I appreciate your kind words of support.

  2. It is never too late to dream and dream big and to rebuild your life . I was in my 40’s when I went to college and I had never done it before then after raising my kids. Finally by 46 I had both my associates and bachelors degrees. So it is never too late to dream I still have dreams of writing a book and having it published I still have dreams going places and seeing more things. We choose the life we want to live, It sounds like you are ready for another change you just don’t know it yet.

    • Congrats on the degrees! That’s awesome! Oh, I definitely know I’m ready for change, it’s just implementing it….building things up the way I want them to be. Making old and new dreams a reality and all of it.

      • Thank you. The hard part with change will always be implemetation, getting put of my comfort zone was always the hard part. Part of the part 3 plus years for me has been about stretching and growing out of old comfort zones and pushing forward with new and exciting things like …blogging for instance. Never done it before, and I didn’t even know what it was until someone suggested it to me

        • to get to this point in your life you had to push past your comfort zone adjusting to life with cellphones , laptops and social media all of which wasn’t around when growing up all took some pushing the comfort zone but look how much better we are it is the same with your personal life, it is for the best we we stretch the limits of what we used to do to what we are doing because it deepens what we will become.

  3. I don’t think you should ever give up on your dreams! Those are really great examples. I feel like as I have gotten older, I have gotten braver and I try new things all the time now.

  4. Now that I’m in my mid sixties, the types of adventures I want to explore are different from what they were decades ago, but I see no reason to think I need to slow down or stop dreaming. I’m no longer willing to risk life and limb the way I used to – I know only too well that I’m not indestructible – but I have always considered life a journey, an adventure. I have no destination in mind, besides there are too many side roads to explore.

    At 50 years of age I gave up a comfortable and well paying job and invested my life’s savings in my own business. Unfortunately it didn’t work out and I’m not going to be able to live out my retirement in the comfort I had hoped. But, hey, the experience was a great adventure. I learnt a lot about myself, and I have no regrets.

    I have a simple philosophy: Today is the first day of the rest of my life.

    • I greatly appreciate your insight. Dreams, like anything, do evolve and change. I’m sorry to hear about your business — but glad that you’re able to view the experience as an adventure. It was a brave thing to do nonetheless.

      I like your philosophy! it’s one we’d all do well to remember, regardless of age.

  5. The only thing that ever holds us back is ourselves (unless a gun is involved, of course). You can do anything you want to do. Just start now. We impose all kinds of silly rules (they are pushed at us by the media) all the time but they aren’t real unless we say they are. Do whatever the hell (remember to swear so you live longer, right?) you want to do and NEVER listen to anyone else (including the status quo voice in your head) that tells you that you can’t or shouldn’t. Never. Go for it, whatever “it” is…and have fun.

    I have been following you forever but apparently I never get your posts. I just cam to see if you were writing anything and you are but it doesn’t show up on my reader. Just so you know. Loved the post on swearing. 🙂

    • Those are the words I need to hear! Thanks for showing up and kicking me in the butt! I need to start getting those dreams into gear because with my mouth, I’ll be around for a VERY long time. 😀

      Hey, I had that same problem with a couple of blogs I follow. I just suddenly stopped getting notifications from them and they stopped showing up in my reader, even though they showed up in my blog list. I ended up having to unfollow them and then follow them again to fix it. It must be some kind of a glitch in the WordPress matrix.

  6. you truly hit the nail on the head with this post because it is a cultural problem for sure – and I see this with musical instruments a lot. People think that if they did not play as a child or teen it is too late – but we saw our pediatrician start playing piano in his 50’s and while he might have limits – he mastered it and really enjoyed it.
    But you are right – it comes down to belief systems and how we look at something. But there are so many inspiring bios to motivate – as you note here – and a few more – Mark (from mark’s daily apple) he only really started his business idea at 47. I heard of a comedian who started at 46 – and then saw on one documentary a guy who went to medical school in his 50s. anyhow, I love your thinking with this and as humans I think we need to stir up our proper thinking as we go along – 🙂 ❤

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