When I started my TikTok channel at the age of 48, everyone laughed.
They laughed because a 48-year-old had no business on a platform designed for carefree, dancing 22-year-olds. They also laughed because a 48-year-old woman had no business wanting anything more for her life.
At that point, I had served as a criminal prosecutor at the start of my career and transitioned to a very successful career in finance for the next 20 years. I had shattered the glass ceiling in a male-dominated industry and made a name for myself. I also didn’t need the money.
So why would I subject myself to the embarrassment and ridicule of face planting in a space where only people half my age have triumphed? Why did I think a Gen-X user would have an iota of success?
The reason – as my grandfather used to say – is that you can’t buy gray hairs at the corner market. At 48, I had one thing the 22-year-olds did not and could not have: wisdom. That only comes with age.
As I researched, I’d found that while Gen-Zers had their fingers on the pulse of the latest pop culture trends – music, fashion, movies, beauty – they had no clue about how to succeed in life itself.
They didn’t know the first thing about how to apply for a job, how to ask for a raise, how to structure their finances, or recognize red flags in relationships. I did! So, while they were busy dancing and posing, I was busy teaching.
This expertise grew my TikTok channel to almost 1 million followers today.
Our biggest advantages in midlife and beyond are experience and expertise. By the age of 50, most of us have likely accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge from our previous careers that are transferable to almost anything else we choose to do. These advantages are invaluable in a new field or industry, allowing us to apply our skills in different ways and hit the ground running, unlike the younger, less experienced generation.
We also know what we’re good at and, most importantly, where we need help. I knew I was great at speaking in front of a camera and providing valuable information in a concise, entertaining way due to my legal background. I knew I was great at scheduling and organizing. I also knew my strong suit wasn’t navigating technology or editing videos. Thus, I hired my niece to help edit and post my videos while I stuck to making the actual content.
Another advantage of midlife is achieving financial stability. By this age, many of us have paid off our mortgages, sent our kids to school, paid the student loans, and have reached a level in our careers which affords us a comfortable life.
This allows us to hire talent to supplement the skills we lack and produce a better product. It also provides us the freedom to pursue a new career or passion without the same level of financial pressure we may have faced earlier in life.
While the younger TikTokers were “singing for their dinner,” with the pressure to put out content – any content – I was having fun, releasing my best advice, and getting a bigger following.
Lastly, by the age of 50, we have often built a robust professional network through our previous career. This network can be leveraged when transitioning to a new field, providing access to valuable connections, potential mentors and job opportunities.
Every person on my team today – my manager, publicist, agent and attorney – were all referred via my professional network. Since I had been connected with these individuals for almost 30 years, they were happy to help me form salient connections. Unless you come from an affluent or well-known family, this network of soldiers willing to open up their contacts to help you get your foot in the door doesn’t exist at 22.
Of course, the decision to start a new career in your 50s does have its challenges. That may include potential ageism in the job market or adapting to a new work environment. I get turned down for sponsorship opportunities often because I’m too old or not “hip” enough. I’m also called “boomer” (even though I’m Gen X) or “old” quite often by those who don’t approve of my content.
But I wear those descriptions as a badge of honor because they come with so many benefits!
So, this old “boomer” is going to continue to capitalize on her superpower with a renewed sense of purpose, utilizing the experience, skills, financial stability, and network she’s built over the last 30 years, while the 22-year-olds are figuring it out. I hope they will find my channel and also learn from my experiences, as have the 51 percent of my 1 million followers who are women between the ages of 18-35. Mentoring is another joy and privilege of age.