Women on” aging” will always be a tough conversation. While for some, old age is synonymous with dread and foreboding, and for others it is merely a number. I chose the latter as my view of old age. After all, it is just another phase of my life!
I think about my friend whose greatest fear is growing old by herself, and I began to ponder on growing older and this specific stage of my life. What exactly are we looking for as women getting older? Is it procedures for growing older with dignity and beauty or ways to overcome the challenges associated with growing older in a world that values youth and beauty?
For many of us we have reached that critical path of our life map that we have planned for ourselves. We finished high school, headed off to college where we got a degree or two, landed our dream job, and raised a family. Some of us are probably divorced or widowed, or plain just on our own. We suddenly realize that our map has run off the page- the kids are grown and gone- WHAT NOW!
For me it is a time to really live- my rules, my priorities, and my life! As I reflect on my life so far, I realize that I have adopted certain modus operandi to rethink my life after the end of my relationship and to grow old gracefully with myself. So here is what I have implemented so far!
Having a positive attitude around aging is vital. Considering the alternative; aging isn’t so bad after all! In our society, aging is such a negative prospect. But is this a reality, think about it, everything in nature eventually gets old. Why should we as women be any different? With a positive attitude comes acceptance to most of lives eventualities.
Learn how to make peace with forgiveness. Yes the other F-word! As I grew older I realize that holding on to the past only makes one bitter and weighs you done. I remember watching Oprah’s life class in which she talked about the moment she understood the meaning of the word forgiveness. This was defined by a guest who stated “It really means letting go of the past we thought we wanted.” Like Oprah this has resonated with me and so I have learnt to let go of all resentments for anything or any situation. Yes! Yes! It’s not easy, but after the first, second and third time it becomes a way of life.
Help others to understand the new you. As I grew older I got to know the real me. I found out that I was not the introvert I thought I was but really a very sociable person. I have always treasured my alone time (only child syndrome), but this was more prevalent once I moved into my own space. I often found myself explaining that I lived alone but I was not lonely. But, change can be very confusing for the people who knew you in your prior life. So to help them to understand the newly found you, share some of things you have found out about yourself, whether it’s after a break-up, the end of counseling or just your spiritual growth. Remember, expectations are the foundation in any relationship and people will be more open once they know what to expect from you. Change is an important role in the aging process, so as you welcome it, help the people around you to embrace it also.
Find your passion. The internet abounds with information on how to pursue what you love. As I read these motivating stories, it has helped me to find my passion. Revisit that big picture you had in your head for yourself. What was it you wanted to do? Is it to see the world, well get started? Make small sacrifices to make this dream a reality. I have found that there is no wrong or right way to live my life; it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me!
Define what happiness means to you. Put away societal rules and embrace your own definition of happiness and the “Good Life”. For me this has been giving back to my high school alma mater along with my college, and helping a young man with his community non-profit organization. As the late Audrey Hepburn said “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others”.
Yes, women on “aging’ is a difficult topic. But, it doesn’t have to be a time of immense depression. Aging can be regarded as a time of rejuvenation and reconnecting to oneself and the world around you. It’s a time to embrace interesting activities, spiritual growth and to connect with the ones we love. The truth is, tomorrow is promise to no one and life can change in an instant. If we live it right, our best years can be now and ahead of us. And like fine wine and cheese we will find ourselves aging with the vitality and confidence that goes along with dignity and grace. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Make the most of yourself…for that is all there is of you.”