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When you’re in your youthful 30s, turning the big 5-0 seems a lifetime away.
As the latter years of my 40s passed me by, I have to admit turning 50 filled me with dread. Was I going to be lamenting the days of my youth, having to “act my age” and prepare myself for the sunset of my life? Did the word retirement have greater meaning?
I did consider hiding under a rock to wait for the year to slide past, denying that I was really that “old”, but the universe had a different plan.
The year before I turned 50, I was forced to face the reality of a life spent in the sun and was diagnosed with skin cancer on my face. After waking up in the hospital with a face full of stitches, the reality of ageing hit hard.
I spent the next six months on a quest to seek out expert advice and ensure that this particular cancer would never return. In the process, it completely changed how I viewed my world and most importantly myself. Sometimes we take life for granted, and our health can offer up a rude wake-up call.
At 50, you’ve got experience, skills and funnily enough, absolutely nothing to lose.
Later that year I mustered the courage to pose naked for the January 2012 cover of the Australian Women’s Weekly and the blowback was in equal parts humbling and inspiring. It turns out that 50 wasn’t old after all and a whole new chapter of my life began.
I started a website to help inspire women and encourage them to embrace the best that life could offer and be empowered. Through Balance by Deborah Hutton, I reconnected with old friends, interviewed new friends and published so many inspiring stories. In some small way, I’m sure it contributed to a changing of the tide for women in their 50s.
I believe turning 50 is the start of our third age – it’s a new beginning, a time to shine, be free, reinvent yourself and pursue your passions.
Look around and you will see hundreds of women over 50 stepping up and leaning in. I was lucky enough to share some of their stories including Lisa Wilkinson, Amanda Keller, Anna Bligh, Ita Buttrose, Tina Arena, Judith Lucy, Lorna Jane and Kathy Lette.
A common theme in each of their stories was new-found confidence and freedom. At 50, you’ve got experience, skills and funnily enough, absolutely nothing to lose.
Newsreader Juanita Phillips summed it up so succinctly when she said the key to tackling the fear of ageing is to not look backwards, but to see the opportunities in front of you and use your age as a reason to go on and do the stuff you really want to do.
Turning 50 was one of the most empowering years of my life – how about you?
Deborah Hutton is a television presenter, former magazine editor, entrepreneur, author, speaker and Australian media personality. Facing 50 and the shock of being diagnosed with a serious skin cancer, Deborah spent more than a year assessing and redefining herself and realised along the way, women not only needed support but also wanted to connect and talk. As a result, she launched her digital media community ‘Balance by Deborah Hutton’ in 2011.