Getting older can be tough. It’s not just the physical changes that we need to contend with. It’s also the psychological weight of countless accumulated experiences that hold us back.
How can we believe in love when we have been betrayed? How can we trust our politicians when we have experienced decades of lies? How can we make new friendships when we have seen how the people close to us react when the dark times come?
Ok, I know that I’m being a bit overly dramatic here. It’s not like we all reach out 60th birthdays and suddenly turn into untrusting, bitter, emotionally damaged older ladies.
That said, in talking to the 1000s of other women in our community, there is no denying that each of us carries these feelings – at least a little – in our hearts. We may not think about them every day, but, they color our behaviors and make it difficult for us to find the happiness that we deserve.
This reminds me of a great quote by Bruce Springsteen who said, “The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence.”
This quote perfectly captures one of the biggest challenges – and opportunities – facing older women. Now that we are in our 60s and older, we can take a step back and challenge our negative thoughts.
Or, at the very least, we can challenge our implicit assumptions and ask ourselves whether we are, perhaps, being a little unfair on the world.
Trust me, I know how hard this is. I’ve had my share of heartbreaks and betrayals over the years. I lost my home in the financial crisis. I have had good friends abandon me in hard times.
Yet, if I am honest, I have also seen the opposite. I have seen strangers reach out to help me when I needed support. I have witnessed the women in our community lending a hand when they saw someone in need. I have witnessed 80-year-olds falling in love. I have seen my children grow into adults who are determined to make the world a better place.
Idealism is not about having your head in the clouds. It is about reaching for the clouds. It is about rejecting limiting beliefs and tired stereotypes and making a difference. It is about focusing on what you hope you can do rather than on what you think you can’t do.
Every day, 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65. We are a force to be reckoned with. Let’s use our power for good!
It doesn’t matter whether you and I share the same political views or value the same things. What matters is that we both care about making the world a better place.
So, please take a few minutes today to think about what you really care about. Then ask yourself whether your loss of innocence has killed your idealism. If so, maybe it’s time to rediscover it again.
Do you agree that older adults can be a powerful force of positive change in the world? Do you think that it is possible for us to rediscover our idealism when we have lost our innocence? Please join the conversation.