Yesterday, June 5th 2014, I turned 50 years old. 50 is one of those “big 10” ages you come to as you grow older. The ones that, when you reach them, slap you in the face with the reality that another 10 years of your life are gone. But 50, man. 50 is a milestone birthday. It’s one of those birthdays where you start really evaluating the success or failure of your whole life. You start to wonder if goals you haven’t reached yet will ever be reached. That’s what I found myself starting to do anyway. They kept trying to creep in and I kept fighting them off.
So before they had a chance to take hold and have me in a corner somewhere in a fetal position, I decided to take very deliberate steps to make sure my 50th birthday was a happy occasion for me and not…well, something else. Now let me state right off the bat that I’m no expert on turning 50. It’s hard to become an expert at something you only do once. But I do think there are some really simple things every person should try to do when they turn 50 (or any other birthday for that matter), and I thought I’d list them for you here.
1. Take The Day Off Work.
I see so many people work on their birthday because they see it as “just another day”. I did it for years. But turning 50 years old ain’t just another day, and I don’t think anyone should allow it to be. I’m still wrapping my head around what a milestone event it is to turn 50 years old. So I decided whether I do anything or not I’d be taking the day off work.
2. Leave The House And Do Something
One thing everyone kept saying to me on Facebook was “do it big, Ron!” I never felt the need or the desire to do something really big, but it was important to me to do “something”. Even if I did it by myself. I’m blessed that I didn’t have to because I have siblings I love and a wonderful woman in my life who love me. But the night before I just went to a local pool hall and treated myself to my favorite meal there and a drink. Simple, but it was something I enjoy and it felt good to treat myself to it.
The next morning my girlfriend took me to breakfast and spent some time with me before leaving for work. Later I took in a play-off game and a meal with my brother. All of these things are simple but they all made the day special. The point is, when you reach a milestone age like 50 you have to be very deliberate and intentional about making it a GOOD day full of Good feelings. If you allow yourself to stay home and be isolated, turning 50 can be a very depressing thing.
3. Tell People It’s Your Birthday
With all of it’s faults, one of the coolest things to happen in our time is social media. I don’t care who you are, having 100 people wish you a happy birthday just feels great. But even when I went out and was around others I told them it was my birthday. People love birthdays! You’ll almost always get a smile and a warm sentiment when you tell someone it’s your birthday.
4. Maintain A Proper Perspective
In the day and time we live in, turning a year older is nothing to take for granted. Turning 50 is though, is something a LOT of people don’t get to do. It is a milestone, life-evaluating kind of even though. So if there’s any birthday that has the potential to really make you depressed it’s this one. I’m still having little thoughts in the back of my mind of all the things I never accomplished and may never accomplish, as if the whole ride ends abruptly at midnight on my 50th birthday.
But when I really take inventory I realize I’m blessed. This birthday has already been one of the best I’ve had, even though nothing really “big” has happened. My first born son graduates tomorrow. I’m in a relationship with the woman I’ve prayed for most of my life. I have lots of family and loved ones near. A church family. So many things to feel good about.
But what feels even better is that unlike many birthdays in the past, this time I’ve really celebrated it. I’ve enjoyed it. Took a couple of days off. Enjoyed some things I like. And there’s more to come. And I think we all should. We take birthdays in general way too lightly. But there’s something about turning 50 that really drives home how blessed you are to have had so many of them.