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Do I Believe That “All My Future Is Behind Me”?

By Ann Richardson April 06, 2023 Mindset

We were both waiting for the same train. I had sat down next to her in the waiting area, and she had moved her things slightly to make room, which meant we began to talk. For some reason, the conversation turned quickly to age.

I told her I was 81 and I liked being old. She said she was 61 and she didn’t. I asked her why not? “Well, because I feel all my future is behind me,” she answered.

Oh dear, I wondered. Do a lot of people feel this way?

Is Your Future Behind You at 61?

There is something about age 60, which sounds like a new level, like the levels in one of your grandchildren’s computer games. Except whereas they are always seeking to get onto a new level, this isn’t something that many of us are trying to get to.

It sounds like the beginning of ‘old’, which means the beginning of ‘the end’. Even if people at age 60 are not yet worrying about death these days (not so long ago, such thoughts might have been very reasonable), it is a time of thinking about retirement.

And retirement means stopping. Life as you have known it comes to an end. I guess it is an easy step to your “future is behind you.” (This brief companion also told me that she had lost one husband through divorce and another through death, so perhaps that sounded like the end of the road in the romance department.)

We turned to the reasons why I liked being old. “You are SO much more confident,” I argued. Yes, she said, and noted that she hadn’t really thought about that. “You feel so much more comfortable in your own body.” She agreed.

“And you do whatever you want to do and say whatever you want to say,” I added. She didn’t demur. I don’t know whether I won her over, but I did give her a flyer for my recent book on the subject of growing older.

She said she would look into it. Our train was called, our seats were in different compartments, and I didn’t see her again.

So Much to Look Forward to

But good heavens, life doesn’t stop at 60. It doesn’t even stop at 80. The past 20 years have brought two new books from under my pen. (In case you are curious, the other is on hospice care.)

Twenty years ago, I hadn’t written a word for Sixty and Me, for whom I have been writing for the last eight or so years.

And I hadn’t begun my new enterprise, started only five months ago when I was 80, of a free Substack Newsletter, each with a blog on some completely different topic of general interest. It has grown from 25 family and friends to nearly 170 subscribers, which is very rewarding.

Of considerable importance, on the family side, I didn’t have either of my two wonderful grandsons, who have added so much to my life.

I might note that I know several women who have found new relationships just before turning 70, so even that side of things is not finished at 60. As far as I am concerned, the last 20 years have left me even happier with my long-standing husband.

Nor are the joys of life counted solely by what one has produced or the people in your life. There is a wealth of everyday experience to be enjoyed.

Everybody is different in what brings them joy, but I have gained hugely from the books I have read, the music I have sung, the places I have been. Not to mention those hours just chatting to a friend. Or lying on my bed thinking my thoughts.

I wouldn’t have missed them for anything.

My future is still in the future.

Where’s yours?

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What has brought you joy in your 60s and beyond? What would you have said to the woman who thought her future was behind her?

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Rosamund Sheppard

I would far rather interact with you Ann than the person that you were talking to. Anytime that I go out with friends (I often do) you would be more than welcome to join us. You sound much more of a fun positive person than the woman you spoke to. I am 74 and do not feel as though all my good times and fun are behind me. There are many reasons to be thankful IMO.

Sally Worthge

I became a (Volunteer) Victim Advocate for the local county District Attorney’s office at age 60. Four years later this former Music Teacher has learned an incredible amount about the justice system. And I have helped many people from all walks of life and all different life experiences. I would say to anyone to get out there and do something completely different, travel to new places (local if you have limited funds) and that the best is yet to come!

Kath

It’s not so enjoyable when you don’t still have your family through death, estrangement and divorce…you need confidence to enjoy and after trauma it is gone…and hard to rebuild at 70.

Viki

I agree some of us get more than others to deal with…not so much a perfect world sometimes

Jtwink

Truth! I hear you, Kath. My whole family and most of my friends are gone, no one to reach out to or hear from on birthdays and holidays. My mobility has decreased and I don’t feel like enduring the pain to go anywhere. I’m only 74 but it feels like 94. Still, I’m grateful to be alive at all.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jtwink
Stephanie Bryant

Yes it’s easy to say when you have good things going on like my friends have families and grandchildren.
My adult daughter has mental illness and is verbally abusive so we are estranged and she hates me. I am divorced once and separated from my current husband who has terminal illness, but his mind is gone so he has emotionally and mentally abused me, we would not have had to split up if it wasn’t for that. We had such a great 25 years, we would still be together enjoying our retirement. I have such a low self-esteem right now and I’m trying to work it out in trauma therapy because of all I’ve been through the last few years since I’ve retired. Even have my mother who is almost 89 and she has some dementia, and does not get along with me, It’s been nothing but sadness, so yeah, my future is behind me. I just try to get through each day without crying.

Chelsea Mae

I so agree with you, Kath!

I truly believe folks who down others for not being perennially positive – do not ‘walk the same walk.’ Being happy all the time isn’t so easy when you have lost the majority of your family to death. Most especially, at an early age.

I AM grateful for many things. However, I’m not super sunny everyday. I make no apologies for it.

Linda Kline-Lau

As an “on the verge of 65’r”, not quite retired yet, I started thinking about the fact that I have more life behind me than in front of me about 10 years ago. It made me want to try harder to make every day count. I wish I could say that it motivated me to do something fantastic but I’m honestly still struggling to figure out next steps.

Sara

Be open and flexible. Every day does count and it’s a blessing to have the air to breathe and our bodies that work (hopefully)!! I find my inner strength is in a faith that I have had since I was 17 years old. My days are soooo FULL and I am grateful and blessed. All the best to you as you navigate the next steps:)

Pat

I feel the same way she did…not fun

Sara

Try something out of your comfort zone and be curious!! Take the fear out of taking risks. I know it’s hard but take some baby steps into something you always wanted to do and never did. Good luck!

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The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books: http://annrichardson.co.uk.

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