I realised the other day that I have an irrational fear of getting old. (You’re already old, some may say!) So where does this fear come from?
Well, it’s not because of the increasing number of grey hairs or laughter lines (my euphamism for wrinkles) or that my birthday cake gets bigger every year in order to accommodate the required number of candles! No, it goes much deeper than that. It’s about feeling less useful, less needed, less respected, less appreciated … I guess it’s a fear that younger people will write me off just because I’m getting older!
Unlike in other parts of the world where older people are highly respected and even revered, we tend towards the opposite extreme and see the elderly as a burden on society, as well as a great topic for jokes. We’ve developed a ‘know-it-all’ attitude, which prevents us from even considering that we might learn something from those who are older and more mature. I have been guilty of that attitude too, until I started to get older!
I recently read an article by Richard Branson, who incidently has just turned 60, commenting on why employers shouldn’t overlook older employees. One thing he mentions is that many younger people have preconceptions that older people can’t change; they are not as creative; they can’t think laterally; they are not open to learning etc.
Well for those of you who think that’s true, let me state my case:
I honestly believe that I am far more open to learning now than I ever was when supposedly studying for a university degree in my 20s. (Back then I was far more interested in pursuing a social life!) I believe that life experience continues to help me hone and shape my creativity. I have learned and continue to learn new skills. I embrace and love new technology, hence my my new-found passion for social networking and desire for an iPad! As for lateral thinking – well I’m a woman, so it goes without saying that I’m adept at providing reasoning that is not immediately obvious and logical, so no problems there!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news to all you Gen X Y and Zs out there, but this late Baby Boomer is never going to use the word retire, will join a ‘seniles’ group before she’ll join a seniors one and plans to keep on learning, loving and living a productive life for a heck of a lot longer. So please don’t write me off just yet!