What the pandemic — and aging — taught me about what’s important – New York Post

Five years ago, I turned 40 and wrote a short list of tips and suggestions for people my age, women especially, not to fade.

Since then, we’ve gone through a global pandemic, and fading became secondary to just living. We stayed in our homes for way too long, paused our lives as if that were possible and let what is important slip away from many of us. At 45 I recommit to living my life as fully as possible. Here are some ways you can too:

  • You might be lying about your age by now. Don’t. You don’t want people to think you’re a really old-looking 35. Society should know what a 45-year-old looks like. Say it: I’m 45 and proud of it.
  • That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about how you look. Don’t be ashamed if you like Botox or Spanx, whatever puts a pep in your step. Feeling beautiful isn’t something we leave just to younger women. Men too, take care of yourselves. Have a sense of your own style. Dress up when you go out. Try.
  • Continue learning. Change your mind sometimes. It’s OK and normal to adjust your opinions, even on long-held beliefs, as new information becomes available.
  • Do not argue with friends and acquaintances on Facebook. Especially do not argue with family on Facebook. The medium is made for you to peruse pictures of your friend’s vacations and either “Yasssss, girl” their fashion choices in the comments or judge them silently. It is not intended for a debate on the war in Ukraine with your friend from third grade. If you must argue on social media, the app for you is Twitter.
Woman angry on laptop
Reduce COVID political arguments over social media, especially with family.
  • Similarly, I often hear from people who have had frayed relations with their family or friends over politics. Rethink this. There’s a great line in the film “A Bronx Tale” in which a warm-hearted gangster, played by Chazz Palminteri, reminds a young boy, “Mickey Mantle don’t care about you, so why should you care about him?” Do not let politicians you don’t actually know get between you and your family. No one ever wins political arguments with loved ones.
  • That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in things strongly and fight for those beliefs in other parts of your life. Have ideals and pursue ways to effect change. Just don’t bother trying to convert Aunt Agnes over Christmas. Bond over commonalities, like how funny Uncle Edgar gets after he hits the eggnog. There is a time and a place for activism. Do not believe professional activists who say you need to be constantly battling with your family.
  • COVID has specifically hurt a lot of familial relationships. Maybe Agnes wore her $2 cloth Old Navy mask like a shield for too long. Maybe Edgar didn’t get the vaccine. Remember that while our health officials let us down with their politicized advice, regular people did their best with the information at hand. Rebuild relationships with the people you love. What we should have learned during our time apart is that family and friendship are everything.
Mom looking into daughters face
Parents should remember their needs are important too, so it’s ok to put yourself first.
  • Five years ago, I wrote, “If you’re a parent, don’t revolve your life around your kids. Love them, nurture them, spend time with them, but don’t let them be your ‘whole world.’ When they grow up, you want to still have a world.” I stand by much of that and continue to believe that having a life outside your children is so important. But when the pandemic hit and society left kids behind, many of us, me included, rearranged our entire lives to help our kids. Remember that sometimes adjustments need to be made and you’re not betraying who you are by making them.
  • If you’re in a relationship, recognize it needs attention. “Gray divorce,” or divorce over 50, has nearly doubled since 1990. We get into our ruts and forget to focus on each other. Go to dinner. Hold hands. Take pictures of each other and together. Talk highly of your spouse behind his back. Kiss a lot. Remember the excitement of falling in love and the comfort of the early settled days. Love each other openly and all the time. 
  • If you’re not in a relationship but want to be, remember the wise words of the famous philosopher of our youth, Axl Rose: If “you ain’t got no one, you better go back out and find her.” Your person will not find you in your living room. If the pandemic has turned you into a homebody, find your way back out.

We’ve been through a lot in the past two years but returning to what we were is not impossible. Focus on what and who matters. Don’t fade; go live.

Twitter: @Karol

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