One of my favourite things to do is to read books written by people who have achieved, or are achieving, great things. I find it incredibly motivating and reassuring that the issues we all faceare often the same, regardless of where we come from, and that the big difference is how we deal with them. Recently however, while I was reading what is otherwise a really good book, I found myself getting annoyed by an undertone that it’s the younger people who are the ones that can change the way things are. The author is in a sense alienating a large part of her audience and at the same time ignoring the fact that it is going to take all of us to change the world for the better.
It got me thinking about how much we tend to dismiss other generations, both those older and younger than us. As someone in mid-range (sounds better than middle-aged doesn’t it?) I am beginning to notice a lot of assumptions that come with getting older. Just because you are getting older, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are winding down. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have goals and ambitions. Just as it doesn’t necessarily make you wiser. A twenty year old can display the same wisdom and maturity that we typically attribute to an older person, and an older person can show just as a much as immaturity and stupidity as that often pinned to the younger generations. Look at the old guys marrying young and beautiful women, thinking the girls are in love with them rather than their money. Not a whole lot of sense going on there.
Experience is certainly very valuable, but so is the enthusiasm that comes from doing something new. Age should never be a factor in whether you can do something or not. Well ok maybe it is if you are going to be an elite athlete, but that isn’t on the radar for most of us. Just because you have been around for a while doesn’t mean you are not keen to try new things and totally capable of doing them. In fact you may be more likely to try new things because one thing that age does do, is give you a much better insight into yourself and a confidence to do things without worrying so much what is expected of you. On the same note, we must also make sure we don’t make the assumption that younger people without so much experience are not capable. Because they haven’t been doing something for a long time does not mean they will not be successful at it.
Similarly, I find it interesting that we feel we can negatively judge what someone chooses to wear based on their age. An older woman, or man for that matter, is scorned for wearing clothing deemed too young, as is a young person for wearing clothing deemed too old or conservative. How about we just go with this: if you feel good dressing a certain way and it fits with your lifestyle, then who cares if it is “age appropriate”.
I personally am welcoming the movement to increase the retirement age. I hate the thought that in twenty years I am going to be ready to be put out to pasture. I have met many older people who are still doing wonderful things and have no intention of retiring and I certainly aim to be one of them.
As I am finishing this post, I am hearing the news that the world has lost Nelson Mandela. Please let this amazing man be a reminder that anyone of any age, even if they are facing great hardship, can bring greatness to the world. RIP Mr Mandela.
Til next time…