negotiating the next 50

This January is the one when I turned 50. This feels big to me.

I strongly remember 25, which was halfway to now. I was absolutely sure that 25 was a brick wall that I had to have certain things done or I was doomed to failure for my whole life. Unsurprisingly I had missed certain of those milestones and 25 found me making substitutions.

The substitutions themselves had to be real. I was sure I should have graduated from college by then, but it hadn’t happened. I substituted that I had found a good career even without that diploma which was supposed to be the skeleton key to life success.

At 25 I was very focused on what I had to do. I had very low expectations of what others would be giving me. My relationships seemed to be more about what I had to give to them rather than what they should do for me.

In my new career, I began to notice that people interacted differently that I was used to. They were far more careful with my preferences. I thought I would try this tactic in my marriage. I formed an experimental opinion.

I would not like Indian food, and see how it was received.

It was not well received. My experimental opinion was not honored. It was more like an enemy that had to be conquered into submission.

I have never forgotten the results of that experiment. I learned so much about what I wanted from other people and how to set expectations.

I kept the career and ditched that marriage.

Substitutions had to be made. My preferences had to be considered and accommodated. I didn’t know how to do that right away. 25 years later a know a lot more about how to ask for things and how to negotiate substitutions.

I certainly don’t get it right every time, but it gives me a lot of hope for how far I’ve come and what I can look forward to. Happy new year! Let the next 50 years be even better.