Fifty. Five-zero. The half-century mark. Are we supposed to have all the answers to life's big questions when we hit this momentous milestone?
Ridgefield resident Amy Schmidt, who launched her own media platform called Fearlessly Facing Fifty to inspire women over 40 to push fear aside, find their confidence and not allow life to cause them to lose their identities, has an easy answer for that: No.
It is not uncommon for women in their 40s and 50s to be asking themselves, "Where did I go? Am I the same person who was ready to set the world on fire when I was 22?" according to Schmidt. She certainly asked herself those questions and more.
Schmidt began her broadcasting career as an intern at WMIL in Waukesha, WI, then continued at WISN-TV in Milwaukee at the assignment desk where she helped producers with Milwaukee’s Talking daily television talk show. Her career continued in Washington, D.C., at WUSA, reporting on local human-interest stories and in 1990 she moved to Indianapolis as a reporter for Topics Newspapers and The Indianapolis Register. All the while she had a family to care for.
"You may be a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter. But where are you? For me it sunk in one day as I was getting the kids off to school and my husband yelled to me, 'Hey Mom, can you grab the dry cleaning on the way home?'"
For some, when they hit 50 they fear life has passed them by.
"The would have, should have, could have set in for so many, and with the shifting of roles, and being needed in different ways, there is a tendency to feel as though you're losing your identity," Schmidt said in an email.
"Women at midlife share common threads as their bodies change, relationships change and parents' age and they become caregivers," Schmidt related. "Everyone at this age is navigating their own story or circumstance," she said.
Fearlessly Facing Fifty offers more than 40 podcasts and Schmidt also has a new book out this month and available at online retailers: "Cannonball! Fearlessly Facing Midlife and Beyond."
The podcasts include interviews with inspiring women, including journalist Joan Lunden, CoverGirl model Maye Musk, financial expert Jean Chatzky and television host Julie Moran. New podcasts drop every Friday on her site. The Fearlessly Facing Fifty website also includes numerous blogs and articles that feature Schmidt's own experiences and those of others who have met their challenges head-on.
"When I took on the challenge of launching my podcast six months before I turned 50 I didn't have a clue about how to start. Was there a button? I can't tell you how many times the people at the Genius Bar at Apple saw me coming and thought, 'Oh brother, here she comes again.' But honestly, they are some of my biggest cheerleaders.
"I remember recording my first episode — and talking into the mic thinking — is anyone out there? I had to find my confidence — know that the message I was sharing was important. I am passionate about changing the narrative around midlife from crisis to opportunity."
Her book, "Cannonball! Fearlessly Facing Midlife and Beyond," is a collection of Schmidt's personal experiences and other women’s stories that hopes to empower women to take charge of their lives and overcome feeling invisible.
Schmidt wants to empower and inspire women to "find their confidence, to just start that class or that journey towards health or to begin again on a new relationship or a new career or a simply a pivot. It's our time to do it."
"As for goals. We need to look back at what we've experienced and done to get to this point in our life. We need to self-reflect and create our own highlight reel," Schmidt continued.
In terms of their career, many women, she explained, can get stuck — feeling as though they're outdated, not current, not qualified enough to submit a resume because they've been out of the workforce for a decade or more. But actually, according to Schmidt, “You haven’t peaked yet, you’re just getting started.”
Women are a force at this age, Schmidt said. "We just need to uncover our confidence — share our voice and experiences and Cannonball with confidence!"