Our Third Act
I fully intended to write about two skincare gadgets this week, but divine guidance, (or procrastination) interceded on their behalf. Instead, I offer a public service announcement of sorts, a ‘wow I needed that’ kind of message in the midst of our noisy and confusing world of appearances. It comes from Jane Fonda (of all people) who I still blame for introducing me to the exercise phrase, “feel the burn.” I took that broad literally when she chanted it in her exercise videos and, to this day, I still struggle with a kinder, gentler version of exercise.
ANYWAY, it turns out Ms. Fonda turned over a new leaf and now leads the charge for what she calls the longevity movement.
In her Ted Talk, “Rebirth” Fonda asks us to reconsider the typical stages of life as we currently define them – childhood, adolescence, adulthood and well… you know – the D word: decrepit, decaying, dilapidated, dead. Instead she refers to our years after adulthood (ostensibly 50+) as our “third act’, which represents the last three decades of our life. Ms. Fonda defines the third act as,
A developmental stage of life with its own significance; as different as adolescence is from childhood.
She reminds us of the universal law of entropy (evidently, the second law of thermal-dynamics) which states everything is in some form of decline, or decay with one exception: the human spirit.
Our third act reminds us to reestablish the mission of finishing our selves, to recapture our true essence that (perhaps) we lost along the way. Fonda says,
Women start off whole, don’t we? As young girls we’re feisty. We have agency – we are the subjects of our own life.
But, as puberty sets in, many of us become victims of inflexible societal standards. Most of us remember our adolescence as the first time we started to worry about fitting in, being accepted by the right crowd, and looking like everyone else. Fonda claims our third act offers us the opportunity “to be the person we might have been.”
I absolutely LOVE this notion, but why wait until we hit middle age to discover our very best selves, the ‘who we might have been’. If you’ve lost yourself to your profession, to your relationship, or to unrealistic standards of success, take this moment (or several) to regroup and refocus on taking back your agency. Find your voice and use it. Reveal yourself to others, speak up in a respectful manner, and let yourself be known. To paraphrase Emile Zola,