Assumptions about aging
For those of us approaching retirement age and beyond each birthday brings new revelations about aging. We can “age well”, “age gracefully” or “look good for our age” . These are the positive connotations, of course, while the negative image of aging is implied. It is assumed that we are trying to keep up appearances and that it is all downhill from here. Lip service is paid to “honoring our elders” but the reality is usually much different. In a youth-obsessed culture aging is not valued. At best we are seen as glorified babysitters and, at worst, as aged children to be controlled and managed.
Could there be another reality for us as we age?
Losing our identity
As it stands today, many adults over 55 are facing a reality far different from our parents. Some of us have saved and are secure but a great number of us are facing no pensions, depleted retirement accounts and chronic health problems. We may have had to retire early due to lack of employment opportunities. We may have acquired a chronic illness and have had to leave our career due to a disability. Whatever the case may be, this is a time of transition when most adults lose, either voluntarily or otherwise, their primary identity.
Your work pretty much dictates your social circle, the neighborhood you live in and the general financial security of your family. The question is: who are you without it?
The rub is not to be LESS of a person as we age but MORE. We can become more than a number or an afterthought in a marketer’s arsenal. We can find true satisfaction as we age. How can we accomplish this?
- Well, above all, we have time. Allow yourself to use this time to rediscover what is important to you.
- Review your expenses with an eye toward what you can live without. Having more things means using your time and money to maintain those things. Less is more.
- Utilize your wise self. You know a lot. Find a part-time or volunteer position where you can impart this knowledge.
- Allow yourself to daydream about the things in your life that you would still like to do. It could be travel, writing a book, starting a blog, learning a language, taking up painting or re-building an engine. You might pursue a hobby that you didn’t have time for when you were younger, become fully involved in something that you dabbled in when you were working or begin a totally new endeavor.
- Have a serious talk with your family and friends about how you would like to be treated as you continue to age. Challenge them to see you as a vibrant individual who will still contribute. Require respect. Have this talk as often as you feel it is necessary.
- Revisit your understanding of your higher nature. Prepare to be your best self now that you have the time. The way you do this will be unique to you and could include participating in any kind of spiritual pursuit that calls to you. Or not.
After all, if you’ve made it to this age, this is the time to get it right. Have fun. Make mistakes. But don’t let it pass you by. You have so much to give and so much to learn………..still.