They say we grow wiser with age and, if you’re a woman over 50, you’ll probably agree with that opinion. Nevertheless, coming to “wise woman status” is not an easy journey. First we have to spend time in the Fertile Void.
Suzanne Braun Levine coined the term in her book, Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood and refers to it again in her next book, 50 is the New Fifty: 10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood. The Fertile Void refers to the period most every woman experiences when her first adulthood gives way to her second. Changing hormones combined with major shifts in life circumstances (empty nests, plateauing careers, relationships grown all-too-familiar, and so forth) produce a period of such significant re-evaluation, that it can shake us to our very core.
The good news, however, is what follows on the other side of the Fertile Void. As we rebuild our lives, Suzanne tells us we stop asking, “What do we want to do?” and start asking, “How do we want to live?” For women, second adulthood becomes a quest for authenticity. We pay less attention to our personality (how we interact socially) and more attention to our character (the way we act when we’re alone) as we move towards a more authentic way of being.
As we become more comfortable and confident in our own skin, any perceived slights and wounding by others carry far less weight—we literally lighten our load. Ideally, we can let much of the baggage we’ve borne for years slip away. And this includes the baggage we’ve piled upon ourselves. It’s a time of forgiving and forgetting as we forge forward toward a new wholeness and self-actualization.
I invite you to take a listen to this latest, and very important, lesson in our 10-part series on embracing our age and making the most of this special time in our lives. Once you pass through the Fertile Void, most women report that the feisty side of fifty is truly a remarkable, deeply rewarding, and enlightening place to be!