The old quote by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” bears attention, even in our ThirdThird (ages 60-90).
A few years ago, I was in a period of change, going from one type of work to another, and this quote helped me go forward.
I intentionally chose a few women who were successful and who appeared to share values similar to mine. I pursued their friendship. It was worth the effort and two of them remain solid, core friends now, years later.
I find that in my ThirdThird (I will be 70 in a month), the importance of who my friends are is still a vital part of how satisfied I am with my life. I am not about to settle into a complacent life, and I need friends who will help me stay relevant and invested.
What do I esteem in friends in my ThirdThird? Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject.
When I say fun, I just mean that there are things to do that bring enjoyment.
Fun doesn’t have to be boisterous. Fun, for me, is being willing to laugh and to be willing to try new places and events.
I have a friend who loves karaoke. That’s not for me, but I love that she has her fun defined. I have another friend who has fun spending a day with her grandkids, crafting and creating, no matter the mess. Also, not my definition of fun, but I can celebrate her enjoyment.
Myself? I think it is fun to try and share new recipes that are healthy. I think it is fun to take a long walk on a sunny day. I think it is fun to see new birds at my feeders. I find fun in meeting new people and in leading workshops that inspire intentional living. I could go on, but you get the idea.
I weary quickly of hearing too much “woe is me” conversation.
At some point, we all have aches and pains and annoying reminders that we are aging. While I am always willing to listen to someone adjust to their new normal, which might involve some processing that sounds like whining, there is a limit to how long I am patient.
We can’t turn the clock back. We can’t go back to the days we could drive through the night or last a full day at the museum without a break.
It is better to adjust and keep the complaining to a minimum so that we don’t begin to think that we can’t find things to enjoy.
Being able to talk about hard times, as well as the great times, is important to me.
By the time someone is in their 60s and beyond, they have had some life experience. Lots of lovely and memorable events and people. And, a bit of sadness and hurt… some of us with more of one than the other. It has formed who we are.
I need authenticity in my friends.
In our family, we have experienced physical illness challenges and substance abuse challenges. Both of those have given rise to relationship challenges within our family. They don’t define me, but they are a part of me.
I don’t want to talk about them all the time, but there are times I need to have someone else identify with my pain as well as my fun. It isn’t important to share the same pain but to be able to genuinely acknowledge that we all have had pain.
Death. Abandonment. Bad decisions. Disease. It is all a part of life. To deny the pain that has taught and pushed and pulled, whether mine or my friends’, does not lead to real relationships. Being real is important to friendship.
Life in the ThirdThird might be a tad slowed down and at times a challenge, but it isn’t over until it’s over.
Maybe we’ll take a Wine Tour together. Or, start a new business (even at our age!). Or attend a conference. Or suggest some changes to the “way it has always been done.”
I have a client who explained to me that her mother is “of an age” where technology is too overwhelming. As we got to know each other a bit, I discovered that her mother is younger that I am!
I can’t code, and I rely on wordpress.com instead of learning html for myself, but I use technology pretty well for my professional and personal purposes. I’ve chosen to stay open to the possibilities of an ever changing world.
A close friend of mine introduces me as her “friend who gets me to do things I would never think of.” I like that. She is willing to consider my latest idea, but will also tell me when it is a bad idea. We do some good work together and have added in some other like-minded friends to our worthy causes.
Some give and take is important at this stage of life and relationships.
I just had a week of bad news and emotional and physical fatigue. I needed a friend or two to keep me focused and realistic. They let me talk it out, reminded me to take care of myself, and understood that this was a moment… not the whole of my life going forward.
I will do the same for them and others when they need me. But for a period of time… not forever.
I need friends who take care of themselves, who know their limits, and who will be honest when they need extra time for talk and understanding. Friends who will find their way back to being in their own skin, responsible for their own emotional health.
Relationships – and their quality – are important at any age. At any age, also, friends can be a source of encouragement and energy or they can drain and demand. And they will influence how we view and live our lives.
Choose wisely. The energy we have as we age is even more precious than in our younger days. Be and have friends who contribute to the average that you desire.
How do you choose your friends? Have your standards changed as your life advanced? What do you look for in a friend? Please share your thoughts with our community!