In our ongoing interview series, we’re asking our favorite people our most burning questions about life in midlife — questions about love, loss, work, money and all the real talk that comes with getting older and wiser.
Candace Bushnell is the absolutely iconic bestselling author of Sex and the City, Lipstick Jungle, One Fifth Avenue, The Carrie Diaries, and many more. You can currently catch her all over North America as she tours her one-woman show, Candace Bushnell: True Tales of Sex, Success, and Sex in the City.
We sat down on Zoom with Bushnell and discussed what she’s learned about success, money, bouncing back from failure, and the timeless joy of just hanging out with friends.
What's the strangest situation you've found yourself in recently?
I went out on a date with a 25-year-old, and then I went on a date with a 77-year-old. To me, having a 50-year dating age range is the strangest situation. That's something that I never expected.
Also, something that I think people wouldn't expect is the young guy was super nice and polite. I find that a lot of these older guys are really sexist, and this older guy I went out with was super pushy about sex. So that was another strange situation. You should be forewarned: Men are still men, no matter what age they are.
What have you completely lost patience for in life?
I feel like I have more patience for less. I also probably have more patience for things turning out to be...maybe “disappointments” isn't the right word, but I have more patience for things not being as fabulous as they should be. What have I lost patience for? I don't know. I guess I've lost patience for stories of gloom and doom, where nobody is willing to do anything about it. I've lost patience for everything that's bad and the fact that nobody can do anything about it, which is basically the whole world these days.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far in life?
It's longer than you think it is. Money is a lot more important than you think it is. This is probably the biggest thing that I would say to women: it's really easy to get to be in your 60s and 70s as a woman and not have any money. And believe me, I do not have the money that people think I have. But on the other hand, I'm probably better off than a lot of women. So I would say, as a woman, you’ve got to think about money, you've got to think about your future.
When you get to be a woman in your 60s, even in your 50s, those cards that you have when you're younger, that you still even had in your forties — you lose those cards. Youth is a card, attractiveness is a card. You're not going to be having a child, and most heterosexual women access the income stream at least partly through men.
So don't give up your job, don't quit working, think about money. Actually, when I was in my twenties, I wish I'd spent a lot more time working and taking chances on my career, and not being scared, and establishing myself a lot earlier. That's actually what I wish.
What do you want more of in life?
I want more success, honestly. I want that feeling of doing something new and it works. I want to make more money. Will I? I don't know, because it gets a lot harder when you get older, no matter how successful you've been. When you get older, you really see the impact of privilege.
If you come from privilege, if you come from a family that has money, you probably are going to be okay. If you don't, you really need to be looking after yourself. People are not running around saying like, "Hey, I'm putting closeups of 60-year-old, 65-year-old, 70-year-old women on the cover of a magazine to sell cosmetics." There's a reason why there's somebody young on there and there's a big difference between being 40 and 60. Practically a whole lifetime. When you're in your 40s, you're still in your reproductive years. You might be having kids for the first time, you're building a family, you're taking care of things. That's also the time when your career could possibly be the most successful.
And when you get to be 60, it's very different. You're not in your reproductive years, you're postmenopausal. Postmenopausal is very different than being premenopausal. Everybody, for some reason, everybody thinks these things are the same and they're not. Menopause lasts one year, from your last period to one year later, and then you're postmenopausal.
So the reality is that you could be postmenopausal at 50. You could live to be 100, so you're going to be postmenopausal for maybe even more time than when you had your period, and we don't talk about this because we say women's value is basically in being reproductive and everything that means. So that's a big difference, and ageism is very real for women.
Is there any discontinued product or thing that doesn’t exist anymore that you really miss?
You know what I think it is? It's just hanging out with people, that’s what I miss. I don't know if kids still have that when they're in their twenties. But it was like that as a kid, that hanging out where you didn't always have to be doing something. I guess now, everyone is on their phones if they're hanging out, but it's just that hanging out thing.
What do you think is your secret superpower?
I don't feel like I have a secret superpower. But I do tend to keep trying, to keep working. So my superpower is probably the ability to get up and try again after you have failures. And if you're in a creative field, you have a lot of failures, more than the average person, because it goes with the territory. You try stuff, 1/10 of it works, maybe even less than that. Maybe nothing will ever work again. That's when I'm like, "I should just go to The Villages in Florida."
What is the one thing that almost everybody gets wrong about you?
I think that people get so many things wrong about everybody all the time. But I guess what people would get wrong about me is that they think I'm not a real person. I'm actually very down to earth. So that would maybe be that. I have a glamorous side, but it's not my only side.
Main image photo credit: Grace Fries for Gurus Magazine
Image 1 photo credit: Harold Mindel for British Thoughts Magazine
Image 2 photo credit: Grace Fries for Gurus Magazine