An Unflappable Optimistic Sense of Great Things to Come.

March 22, 2024

An Unflappable Optimistic Sense of Great Things to Come.

May 29, 2023

Chip’s Note: Annie was one of our five finalists of 151 entrants into our “Life Begins @ 50” contest. Given the quality of her essay, you can see there was some lovable, impressive competition. Thanks, Annie, for sharing your story! If you’re curious about being around the age of 50, check out my co-founder Jeff Hamaoui’s “Life Begins @ 50” workshop in Baja this spring: https://www.meawisdom.com/workshop/life-begins-at-50-embracing-your-second-adulthood-with-jeff-hamaoui

I just turned 50. Last year as 50 was “looming” I felt a need to squeeze everything possible out of life. Like it was all downhill after my birthday. I took a bucket list trip to Patagonia, consciously carved out time to visit lots of friends from different phases of my life, pushed the limits in my career as COO of a tech company and capped off the year with an epic dance party at my house. It was an amazing year, but looking back, it was a subconscious frenzy to quiet the noise inside my head. 

As this new year begins, I am breathing into 50. And it feels fucking amazing. I feel this sense of wonder, adventure and optimistic possibility that I haven’t really felt since my early twenties.

A bit about me. I grew up in North Carolina and am the oldest of three sisters. My parents divorced when I was nine and I was raised predominantly by my mom. We were very poor, but had a rich childhood. My mom taught me and my sisters that we could be and do anything and that life was about experiences and relationships - not about money. For most of my adolescence I felt this unflappable optimistic sense of great things to come. 

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer my sophomore year of college and died from the disease seven years later when I was 26 and she was 53. Losing my mom at 26 has in many ways defined the last 24 years of my life. Watching her face this illness and lose her life to it in her early fifties was terrifying. She was the strongest person I’ve ever known and if she couldn’t beat cancer, I wasn’t sure how I could survive all that life would throw at me. 

I have spent my thirties and forties accomplishing a lot of what I thought I “ought” to do in a very focused and methodical way. From a career perspective, I’ve been very successful but have been driven more by ego and a perceived need to be 100% self-sufficient. I have also been highly-focused on wellness mostly to combat my profound fear of getting sick and not making it to 50. The last decade has been a blur of getting married, having and raising kids, pushing hard on my career and feeling the need to move as fast as possible.

Today I feel like a chrysalis. Like something amazing is about to unfold. I know I have a lot to give and the legacy that I will leave on the world is yet to be uncovered. I feel liberated from the fear of not making it to fifty and the expectations I layered upon the thirty and forty year old me. The time to tap into this and explore will be profound. I expect the impact of that will ripple through my family for generations to come.

-Annie

Annie Erstling is COO of Forcura, a health tech company that supports the aging in place movement. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her 2 young daughters and awesome philanthropically-minded husband John.

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