How to be 50: How to Appear Successful

By Charlotte Latvala
Featured image

By Charlotte Latvala

By 50, you’ve figured out who you are, where you’re going, and how to get there.

Except that you haven’t. (Don’t feel bad. We at “How to be 50” are experts at being middle-aged and clueless.)

However, even if you have an empty checking account, a comatose career, and no discernible talent or ambition, you can still fake success with the best of them.

Don’t believe us? Try this:

  • Name drop. It’s a well-known fact: Celebrities only hang around with successful people. Local newscasters, third-string quarterbacks, and lawyers with cheesy TV ads count. If you’ve ever breathed the same air as one of these gods, make it known!
  • ID a couple trendy restaurants in your city and imply that you’re a regular. (“The smoked Filipino eggplant is to die for!”) A few Yelp reviews will give you all the information you need.
  • Use the word “my” as often as you can. My shrink. My hairdresser. My financial planner. It doesn’t matter if your shrink is Dr. Phil, your hairdresser Great Clips, and your money maven a Suze Orman DVD you never opened.
  • Sound sophisticated by saying you “do tapas” for lunch once a week. Just don’t mention that by “tapas” you mean “samples at Costco.”
  • Nod in a knowing way. Phrases like “Tell me about it,” and “I feel your pain” are invaluable when the talk turns to mutual funds, admissions at selective colleges, and the best salon to get your roots retouched in a way that doesn’t look trashy.
  • Become a travel expert. No, you don’t have the funds for Fiji or Iceland, but here are two words to help: Travel Channel.
  • Spend your annual clothing budget on one designer outfit. Wear it everywhere, every day, until it falls apart. At 50, no one notices repeats. (It’s not high school.) You’ll just seem incredibly pulled together all the time. Or…
  • …use the word “thrift” as a verb, which implies that shopping at Goodwill is an amusing hobby rather than a necessity.
  • Apologize that your other car is “in the shop” anytime you give someone a ride. (And no, your 15-year-old Honda Civic is neither old nor odd enough for you to get away with the “I drive this ancient beast because I’m delightfully eccentric” excuse.)
  • Tip big when anyone else is watching.
  • Stand tall.
  • Act confident.
  • Keep them guessing.


Filed under life advice, mid-life, middle-aged, money, parody, satire, self-help, successful

23 responses to “How to be 50: How to Appear Successful

  1. sleepygate2013

    I so do some of the things you have listed. Unfortunately, I rarely feel my age. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to send in the form that declared I was old enough to carry a AARP card. Many days, I feel like I am in my 30s and fit in with the younger crowd. I also look at some of my peers and wonder how they got so much older than I am. Age is a state of mind and I am seriously holding on to that idea.

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Absolutely! Been tossing the AARP application in the trash myself for a few years now! Thanks for the follow back and look forward to seeing you around!

  2. You are hilarious! And so right.

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Thanks so much! Love the look of your blog — even though I’m a beginning gardener at best. Isn’t it amazing how old books from childhood stay with us?

  3. I, too, feel that I am far away from that 50 mark. (I’m 49), but I’m going to follow some of your advice. When I my segment for CBS Sunday Morning was being taped, Mo Rocca and I had such a lovely time talking about musicals. (This is true by the way; he is a lovely person.) How was that for name dropping?

    I loved the breezy tone of the article; I think too many people get bogged down by numbers. We need to remember that we’re still who we were when we really were 30! If we were fun then, we’re fun now!

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Heehee! Yes, Mo seems like a nice guy — 🙂 I started writing this because a) I write humor in general and b) because it seems like there are so many earnest, uplifting books/sites out there for people our age, and I felt something tongue-in-cheek was in order. Anyway, thanks so much for liking/following! I really like the name of your blog, too — forgot to mention that!

  4. kimberlysmyth

    Your blog is delightful and so much of it is true! I should join the club since I do a lot of what you mentioned regularly lol! I also believe that age is a state of mind and therefore don’t really act my age-unless there’s a benefit to it!

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Thank you so much! Yep, age is definitely a state of mind — some of us are “old souls” and some of us are “silly adults.” –:)

  5. Most excellent blog Charlotte…and such good advice too…AND…it works for the over sixties to. It certainly made me smile and I am now one of your devoted followers…I love it !!

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Thanks so much! This whole blogging thing is eye-opening…so fun connecting with others all over the world. See you in the blogosphere!

  6. omg, thank you so much for sharing this … love it … I will use some of these tips as I am slowly approaching the big 50!!

  7. Charlotte Latvala

    Charles — yes, I just tried to click on and there’s just a blank page — thought for a moment my mind was playing tricks because I swear I looked at it last night and loved all your fashion stuff. (Esp. how Birkenstocks are popular again!)

  8. Reblogged this on Wang and The City and commented:
    I am obsessed with Charlotte and her witty, humorous, and cynical blog, How to Be 50, about mid-life and introversion … So please enjoy her funny commentary about life in general ..

  9. Charlotte Latvala

    Yay! For the re-blog – that was so sweet of you! And now I did find your blog again…looking forward to seeing more!

  10. Ah, Charlotte, Then there’s the 60’s when you just don’t give a horse’s patooty about success and all it’s trappings! (Unless you’re a politician.)

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