When I was in my 30s, an older friend told me that I hadn’t suffered enough to really be compassionate and understanding with someone else. At the time, that comment hurt, but now, decades later, I understand what she meant.
I hadn’t lived enough, hadn’t racked up enough life experience to really empathize with someone else’s grief. In other words, I hadn’t matured yet.
As mature women in our 60s and beyond, we have a lot of years of life experience of both joy and pain. We understand life’s turning of the wheel from good times to bad and back to good again. Sometimes that happens in the course of a day. It’s the natural ebb and flow of the way things are.
These are some of the best years of our lives. As mature women, we don’t define ourselves through others because we know ourselves. We’re comfortable in our own skin. We stop looking to the outside to check if our behavior is acceptable and to see if we are OK.
When we were 20 or 30 wouldn’t that have been a wonderful way to live instead of constantly comparing ourselves to others?
While maturity is not age-dependent, most of us need to live long enough to see what works and what doesn’t. And when we’re less critical of ourselves, we are more accepting of others.
One of the things I like most about being a mature woman, besides having self-confidence, is being open to other people and accepting them as they are. We are all different colors on life’s palette and what a marvelous work of art we make.
When I quizzed my over-60 friends, they said they liked the sense of freedom they now have to pursue things they couldn’t before.
Susan started her own jewelry business and became obsessed with salsa dancing. For her 70th birthday party, she wowed us, dressed to the nines, with a performance with her dance teacher.
Cat said what she liked about being in her late 60s is realizing that wisdom is at least as important as knowledge. She also likes having the rough oversensitive edges sanded down by time.
The outmoded stereotype of an older woman is that she becomes more fearful, rigid, untrusting, ugly, dower, sick, sexless, and alone.
She’s devalued to such an extent that when in the company of younger women, the younger ones will be addressed by professionals, wait-people, handymen, and even cashiers.
I was visiting my 84-year-old sister when her heater went on the fritz. The repairman came and talked to me as though I was the homeowner.
I had to keep indicating my sister and telling him to ask her the questions. This is commonplace and happens to me when I’m with my grandniece. It’s no wonder older women often feel they’ve become invisible.
This stereotype of how a mature woman lives needs to be shattered. It’s just not true anymore.
Unlike my maternal grandmother – who did live the stereotype 60 years ago, with her orthopedic shoes, acceptable mature women’s clothes, and deferring to her husband – in my world, 90% of the women over 60 are alive, vibrant, interesting and interested, and have their own styles of dress.
Many run their own businesses, are artists or writers. We travel and like to explore, have new experiences, try new foods. We are still filled with wonder. And many feel life more profoundly and are more present, knowing the years ahead are numbered as people in our sphere become ill and die.
I think this awareness leads us to not wanting to be at the end of our lives wishing we’d lived differently. There’s no going back.
I recently had dinner with my friend Linda, a successful yoga teacher, and in the course of the conversation, she used the phrase, “seize the day,” several times.
That has stayed with me, and when I find myself wavering over staying in my comfort zone or pushing the boundaries, her words egg me on.
I don’t want to represent someone else’s idea of how a mature woman should live. If we lead our lives on our own terms, we may just inspire younger women to do the same.
What do you do to smash the stereotype of the mature woman? Do you have any insights that might help someone trying to break out of it? Please share your tips and thoughts with our community.