(Photo by Maggie Munoff/TueNight)

We Asked 15 Women of All Ages: What Does Turning “50” Mean?

Fifty is an age and a cultural milestone, marking half a century lived and decades yet to unfold. Here, 15 women who have reached the half-century mark — and those who have years to go — share their thoughts about what this middle age marker means to them.


Elisa Camahort Page, 52
Chief Community Officer, She Knows Media

“50 means less than I would have thought. It certainly explains the grey streak and the sudden utter understanding about why Nora Ephron complained about her neck. It probably explains fewer fucks to give and more willingness to forgive. But when I’m driving in my car with the radio blasting or giggling about some stupid double entendre that a 12-year-old boy would find amusing or digging in to my eleventy-billionth fruitless internet argument, I’m not sure 50 means much at all. We always learn, and we never learn. I think that’s what being human means.”


Meredith Walker, 47
Founder, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, AmySmartGirls.com

“I do not think much about eventually turning 50. I am PRO-Aging. I think everyone should do it. I am less critical of myself as I go, and the mental relaxation from not beating up on myself is a relief. At Smart Girls we say, ‘Change the world by being yourself,’ and each year of my life, I feel more like my authentic self. There is so much to look forward to, especially through the lens of doing it just for the sake of doing it — not because it’s something to be added to the résumé or CV. More and more, we do things just to have the experience. I am a lifelong learner. I know that showing up and participating keeps the mind and the human spirit alive.”

Cady Coleman, 55cadycoleman1
NASA Astronaut

“Two days after my 50th birthday, I put on a space suit, climbed into a Russian rocket, launched into space — and spent the next six months living on the International Space Station! To me, 50 means still learning new things every day and realizing that there is always another world right around the corner!”


Kelly Wickham Hurst, 45
Founder, Being Black at School, beingblackatschool.com

“I wasn’t really thinking about turning 50 until my husband did earlier this year. He’s five years older than I am. Watching him struggle with [his age] came with a reminder: He told me that by 50 he wanted to achieve certain things at work and try his hand at something new, so he started watching videos and reading woodworking books and built us a beautiful deck. It will be five years before I’m 50, but I’m building something as well: a new business. After 23 years in my career, I chucked it all and decided to take my passion and experience as a school administrator and actually be about it instead of just talk about it. Five years from now, I expect to be really happy with what I’ve built no matter what I look like at 50. It’s more about building my insides than paying attention to what the outer layer looks like at that age. Fifty doesn’t scare me.”


Darian Harvin, 25
TueNight producer, journalist and host of “Am I Allowed to Like Anything” podcast

“I fantasize that being 50 will bring stability. But if there is one thing I’ve learned in the past five years (at least), it’s that age doesn’t equate to stability. Things happen in love, health and relationships. Careers will tug at you to pivot or even change your entire life. What 50 really means to me is having the wisdom to know how to move through these moments, no matter what is thrown my way. There is one actual thing I hope 50 means: more vacations!”


Deb Rox, 54

“When people ask how old I am, I’ve been saying “50/50.” It feels like 50 means half-and-half, balanced, before-and-after. It’s odd to feel that 50 is midlife because I’ve most likely lived more than half of my years, but it does. Who knows: I love porridge and avoid men, as the famous centenarian advises. Either way, 50 feel like equanimity that is liquid and can be applied like a salve or served over ice in celebration. Fifty is lining up two magnets so that they repel each other and feeling that magical tension and hidden strength. You can make one of the magnets float and hover over the other if you play that tension right, like one girl being levitated by others at a slumber party. Fifty is that powerful space between.”


Heather Barmore, 33
Writer and political strategist

“I spent the year prior to my 30th birthday freaking out about the unknown and the idea I held growing up, which was that 30 was ‘old.’ Now, I’m sitting here remembering that and thinking that 30 was just the beginning of a plethora of changes but that there will always be that fear of what comes next. I have the delight of knowing that 50 will probably be the same but with a little more pizazz and a lot fewer f*cks to give about what others think about me. I have been blessed to be surrounded by a group of Black women who are in their 50s and, as Queen Oprah would say, are living their best lives — and that is really all I can hope for. By all accounts, 50 is pretty fabulous. I can’t spend the next 17+ years worrying about what might happen: if I’ll have children/be married/own a home, etc. Fifty means being able to go into whatever happens, headstrong, shoulders back, like, ‘I got this.’”


Debra Rapoport, 71
Artist/Milliner, debrarapoport.com

“I remember very clearly when I turned 50. It was very freeing, but then I recalled that there was still a little birdie sitting on my right shoulder saying ‘you should still be a tiny bit cautious.’ About what, I don’t recall, except life itself. Freedom was already setting in. Then at 60, I remember CLEARLY that the little birdie just flew away…and total freedom showed up! The older we get, the less concern we have about being judged, cautious or whether we are making the correct decision about anything in our lives. This comes with experience and perhaps wisdom. It is our time to play and play freely. Life gets wider as it gets shorter!”


Nancy Davis Kho, 50
Writer, midlifemixtape.com

“To me, 50 means new beginnings, building off old foundations. I have a deep sense of confidence in myself that is hard-won through five decades of trial and error; I know what works for me and what never will (hello, marathons and coconut-flavored-anything.) At the same time, the sudden loss of people whom I loved deeply reminds me none of us are here forever and if there’s anything I’ve wanted to try and haven’t gotten around to yet, now’s the time. And with one kid in high school and another in college, I actually have some bandwidth to tackle new challenges. Finally, 50 means being old enough to know to be grateful — every single day.”


Dawn Avery, 55
Cellist/music professor, dawnavery.com

“Turning 50 revealed an expanded freedom to be myself, with fewer expectations of others and myself, allowing me to enjoy life more — not wondering what other people think. I’m enjoying the moment more fully, not always looking to the fire.”


Emmelie De La Cruz, 25
Personal brand strategist and business auditor, emmeliedelacruz.com

“50 means a second life, a new start. Seeing my mom turn 50 and pursue so many new passions after dedicating her life to raising me has been refreshing. Fifty is the Birkin bag of life. You have more disposable income (goodbye, children and hello, young adults) and more wisdom (farewell, bad decisions) to enjoy. Life’s good at 50, and if you think about it, it’s only really beginning.”


Elise Bauer, 55
Founder, Simply Recipes, simplyrecipes.com

“What does 50 mean to me? Accepting what is and what is not. Accepting my body for all of its creaks, dimples and signs of wear. Accepting myself, my friends and family for who we actually are, not the idealized versions that I would sometimes like us to be. Accepting that I do not have, nor will have — children — and allowing for the sadness that comes once in a while from this. Fifty, to me, means a shift in priorities, from working on building my career to focusing on the needs of my family, friends and community. Fifty means fewer years in front of me than behind. It means not wasting time or brain space on things that ultimately don’t matter. Finally, 50 means being grateful for every breath I take and every moment I get to be with those I love.”

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A’Driane Nieves, 34
Artist, addyeb.com/shop

“My 20s were about healing from my past traumas and discovering who I am, my voice, and developing my own autonomy. My 30s have been about embodiment and thriving instead of just surviving. My hope is that turning 50 will be about new levels of self-compassion and self-acceptance. I’m still incredibly hard on myself, and silencing my inner critic is still difficult. I’m hoping that turning 50 helps me turn a deaf ear to her and simply follow where my intuition leads.”

lorrainecladish-2Lorraine C. Ladish, 53
Digital entrepreneur, author and mom, lorrainecladish.com

“Fifty means whatever you want it to mean. For me, it meant remarrying, establishing a new digital business, taking up yoga, writing more books and feeling better about myself than I´d ever felt before. Sure, aging can be scary, but with so many friends being diagnosed with terminal cancer, I am always grateful for another day. Another week, another month and, hopefully, another year. It seems like a cliché, but not everyone is able to turn 50 (or 60…and so on). So I try to live my 50s with as much, if not more gusto than every other decade. Plus, I need to show my teen children that they can be vibrant at any age.”


Lisa Rae Rosenberg, 52
Writer, smacksy.com

“For me, 50 means colonoscopies and mammograms and having that weird mole looked at. Fifty means not having anything to prove anymore. It means not being terrified of change but accepting its inevitability and, oftentimes, welcoming it. I have found a new fearlessness in my 50s that is accompanied by faith and friendship and the knowledge that I have a well of inner strength to draw upon. Fifty is an exhale. Fifty is a high-five.”

(Photo by Maggie Munoff/TueNight)

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