Faking It at 50
I turned 50 years old an hour and 15 minutes ago and since that time I've been writing and deleting, writing and deleting. I want to pen something profound and beautiful, something wise, with humor and grit, to mark this occasion. The thing is...I don't feel that way. I don't feel beautiful or wise. My 40s seem to have taken my sense of humor with them and the only grit I've got at this point is the bit of mascara still left in the corner of my eye after a day spent crying. I was supposed to be on a beach in Cuba right now, drinking mojitos and making love in the sand.
I feel like I was knocked on the head and have woken up in a life that isn't my own. Surely I can't be 50 years old, with an epically busted heart, living with my parents as I try to take care of them - and not very capably at that - while attempting to jump start a career in a field that is disappearing faster than the polar ice caps? To quote David Byrne, "How did I get here?"
I suppose a more helpful question might actually be "How do I get out of here?" How do I get back to myself, the woman I was years ago, when life held measures of joy and promise? Ascending Kili and Aconcagua - and the physical, emotional, mental, even spiritual work that I have to do in preparation for those climbs - is half of the answer. The other half is easier to achieve, though probably more complicated. I've got to fake it 'til I make it.
Are you familiar with the concept? Basically, you act the part of who and what you want to become, faithfully and with gusto, until you actually become that person. I think it's about using intent and action and maybe even a bit of visualization to make manifest your dreams and desires. And it works. It really does.
I faked it 'til I made it years ago, back before I started traveling and doing things that really alarm my mother, like fording rain-swollen Wyoming rivers on horseback with 6'5" cowboys named Bob and investigating gay leather clubs in Amsterdam. In those days I knew what I wanted - a big life - and what I wanted to become - fearless. I acted that part, pretending to be a big, bold adventurer until it seemed that was what I'd become. For a while. And then I fell harder and more deeply in love than I think I've ever been in life. And my big world started to get smaller. I started to get smaller. Because sometimes big, bold, world-stomping women aren't what men want. Even when that's half the reason why they fell in love with you in the first place.
And when those men who you've changed your life for - hell, tried for years and years to change your very essence for - when they turn around and leave anyway? They leave behind a wraith, a pale shadow, someone with only a vague recollection of who they once were and what happiness feels like.
I don't remember what it's like not to be sad, not to be scared.
So I'm going to try to fake it 'til I make it. I'm going to pretend, as best as I can, to have strength and purpose, energy and even joy. I'm going to imagine that I'm still the woman in this picture up there, which was taken just a couple years ago, by a good friend and just for the sheer hell of it. That woman in the photo - confident, spirited, even gleeful...I want her back. I'm afraid it's too late, that at 50 I'm too old. But I'm going to pretend I'm not.
7/23/2016 10:45:55 am
Soooo proud of you Jill!!! Keep up the good work! You are amazing!! Happy Birthday! You are 2 years behind me!! I'll lead the way!! Its awesome to be an independent woman!! Love you!!! <3
7/23/2016 11:14:45 am
Jill, your rawness and honesty is so powerful. Thank you. I am working hard on changing my inner dialogue, faking it 'til I make it, too. It seems to be working, as the world has been moving in my favor. But the negative self-talk, the anxiety threaten to take over. Sometimes I feel like I am lying to myself, that people don't actually like me, that I am too socially awkward, not smart enough, my butt and thighs are much too jiggly, my husband doesn't love me. I need to remind myself to change the dialogue, even if when I don't believe myself...Fear is a Liar!!!
7/23/2016 11:21:35 am
Jill....as always, your honesty and the raw beauty of your words are breathtaking. Thank you for sharing, you have no idea how many people this resonates with and how much you will help and inspire others.
Thank you for sharing! This is exactly what so many of us need to see & know, that we are not the only one that fear. Not the only one that doubts ourselves. Not the only one that feels the anxiety crawling into bed with them at night. Thank you. Keep up the good fight, in the end it's so very worth the struggle to find yourself.
7/23/2016 02:06:18 pm
It is a travesty that you perceive a man took your fire with him. That makes me very angry. You are a bold, brave, kick-a** woman. I went through marriage betrayal devastation last fall and used your mantra (before I even knew of you) "fake it 'til you make it". I wish you could see yourself through the lense that we see you through. I admire every fiber of your grit. You are not faking it. You are living it by inspiring us other unjustly frightened chickens with your open soul. I will turn 50 next year. You give me the courage to face it head-on and be proud of my age. Keep posting with the fire you obviously have. He didn't take it with him, he stoked the flames even more so you could be bright for all of us.
7/23/2016 05:06:29 pm
Beautiful inside and out! Fake it till you make it.....You have always been amazing no faking that. Much love to you on your birthday!
7/24/2016 07:17:00 am
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” We know who you are and we are all singing your song!! Wishing you a year that measures up to you, Jill! (FTR, sex in the sand sucks!!)
7/25/2016 01:26:38 pm
You may be in agony for now, but the "real you" is so fun and full of hysterical stories to come, we can't wait to see what happens next...
8/26/2016 03:14:57 pm
OMG do you know my life right now? I'll be honest - there will be no mountain climbing of any kind in my future. But the rest of it, the whole "now what" struggle is exactly where I'm stuck and drowning. Thanks for writing this. I will keep an eye on your adventures.
3/9/2017 10:54:45 am
Every post I read, I feel more and more like we are long lost twins!! I have a shirt I made last year, that says - Fake it until you make it!
10/14/2018 01:34:30 am
I have got more faking choice and preparing us about something perfect and emotional preparation objectives. Attempting the writing thoughts and concepts always for great achieved traveling info.
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Jill Gleeson is a journalist based in the hills of western Pennsylvania. She is a current contributor to The Pioneer Woman, Country Living, Group Travel Leader, Select Traveler, Going on Faith, Wander With Wonder, Enchanted Living and State College Magazine, where her column, Rebooted, is featured monthly. Other clients have included