This week, Advantages of Age invited a host of different people to respond to the question – What freedoms have you found in getting older? Here are their responses. Please let us know yours…
I teach two weekly classes and go to a Residential Home once a month. I enjoy the interaction with the groups and it helps me to keep mobile and active. Some of my members are in their 90s. Inspirational!
My father used to say to me “there’s no fun in getting old”, and for him that was true. I have had so much fun and done more than I ever thought I would. This year I self published a book of poetry on Amazon and still can’t quite believe it. Recently joined a classical choir.
Ageing for me has been an adventure into all the things I never had time for in earlier years.
Margaret Blackman, 74, poet, exercise teacher.
I like myself. No, really, I do. I wish it hadn’t taken so long to arrive in this simple place. I wish I’d found The Fields Of Kindness as a young woman, rather than a middle-aged one. And, now approaching 60, where I consider myself to be at the beginning of old, I am grateful beyond description, to be free from the violence of self hatred. I think about my mother who died just 2 years older than I am now. She showed me how to hate myself because that was her legacy too. She died of it: whisky, cigarettes, bulimia, rabid sarcasm and bitterness. Sometimes, when I am feeling that gratitude, just to have comfort and ease, to know and love the one I’m with, I grieve for her suffering and forgive her for mine. Life is much simpler than I ever imagined. I have somehow learned see and hear myself through the channels of tenderness and humour. I am here. You are here. We are all here together. I am free now, to know and relax into this. It doesn’t really matter that it was a long walk home.
Caroline Bobby, 58, cook, psychotherapist, writer.
I have found ageing to be incredibly liberating, but more than that, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. In many ways, once I reached my 50s, I stopped giving a fuck about so many things that used to really bother me. Obviously, the work on myself over the previous 30 years has paid off..! But basically, life is just so much more relaxed, open and honest. I love it. And more than that, I’ve become a published author in my 50s, a salutary tale for anyone younger who thinks they’re not achieving things fast enough.
Hud, 55, writer.
Now that I’m 55 I do finally feel that I’ve arrived at the person whom I was meant to be but never was because I spent too long selling myself short. I went out with unsuitable men and was the ultimate people pleaser. I wanted to be liked by everyone. Now that I’ve stopped all that nonsense, I’m much happier and relaxed. I am leading life on my own terms and I’m enjoying the freedom that comes from not giving a f***. I put a lot of this down to my female friendships and the new friends I’ve made in my 50s whom I deeply love and make me laugh every single day!
Suzanne, 55, entrepreneur, co-founder AoA, screenwriter.
Sex: more tender, relaxed and with emphasis on the journey rather than any goal.
Relationships: more genuine, intimate and fulfilling.
Attitude: more self-confidence, less to prove, content with life.
Friendship: fewer but more meaningful and nurturing.
Relaxation: more laid back, less need to rush and get things done.
Appearance: no longer any need to conform but like to stand out so feel free to dress accordingly expressing flamboyance and eccentricity.
Saying no and yes: Better able to use boundaries.
Asanga, 73, bread-maker, gardener, crystal bowl healer.
I am enjoying the freedom of not having to slog it out 9-5 and having more choice about when and where I work. This could apply at any age but in my case it’s thanks to getting an occupational pension and lump sum earlier than expected. However, I am glad I can’t afford to be completely retired as I still need the mental stimulus of working.
Having more time means I can seek out new activities and people to do them with. There seems to be no shortage of active single people at this stage in life – more than I’ve experienced at earlier stages of my (single) life.
I no longer feel driven to prove myself or develop my career which is a huge relief as it never came naturally to me anyway.
R, 62, University freelancer, tennis player.
Hmmm, I guess I never really connect the joy I feel in being me these days with my age, although I suppose the self-acceptance and self-expression I delight in has come – for me – as a result of life experience and many years’ soul-searching. I’ve also never thought about it in terms of freedom, either. All I know is that I love being me and creating/defining life on my own terms: not caring what others think or fitting in, wearing what I like, eating what I like, speaking my truth and not doing things to please others are just some examples.
Beverley, 51, yoga, dance and tantra teacher.
Ever since I was a little girl, I thought I had to try to like everyone. I would sometimes make a tremendous effort to find the good, pleasant and generally positive qualities in the people that I met. What an effort! With advanced years, I have learnt that you can’t like everybody and you shouldn’t worry about it. Some people are too self-centred, they can talk about themselves but are not interested in knowing about you or complimenting you on your achievements. These people are no longer my friends. Some people are only concerned with appearances – never taking time to
look for other qualities – these people are no longer my friends. The result of this culling exercise is that I have fewer friends but the ones I do have are precious. This understanding comes with age. Thank Goodness!
Alice, 78, jewellery-maker.
The freedom that has arrived for me is feeling the excitement of being a teenager again but with attitude and life experience of one who DOES know better!!!
Doe, 58, homeopath, culture vulture, style queen.
Jung talked about the second half of life as a time of introspection and deepening; a swerve back into one’s own rhythms away from the false self we erected as scaffold against the wounds of childhood. Spiritual life begins when seeking fails and the seeking – in relationships, sex, work, food etc – has to be exhausted. I am nearly there! We don’t see in looking outside of ourselves we are in exile from our essence but I was privileged to experience the grace of suffering, learned my limitations, and now spend a lot of time saying no to things I know are bad for me – although sometimes I still indulge a little first! I have found the key is to love all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly – not to set myself up in opposition to my flaws, enjoy the ride and not to take any of it too seriously.
Simon, 53, soul psychotherapist, writer, 1970s rock aficionado.