I am struggling with the disillusionment of growing wiser. Getting older no longer equates growing wiser. What do I mean by disillusionment? I’m saying that growing wiser with growing older is an illusion and in turn, I am not buying it. Society isn’t living up to this metaphor.
In past generations, our grandparents and growing older was viewed as also growing wiser and we respected their long varied lives as badges of honour. Today, we thrust our parents hastily into supportive housing away from our families and the world. Our elders are viewed as burdens rather than an enrichment of our lives.
Cultures that traditionally held elders in positions of power and guidance are rapidly changing their entire hierarchy. The younger generation is taking over as leaders and influencers.
Western society is applauding Kaitlin Jenner for her dramatic and courageous coming out as a woman. Everyone is saying how wonderful she looks. However, no one mentions that Kaitlin obviously had dramatic age reducing surgery as well as her other surgeries. Would everyone be praising her stunning transformation as enthusiastically if she hadn’t also had this age reduction surgery?
The world is shaming older people. There is definitely a disillusionment about growing wiser.
We are stuck in discrimination against those that aren’t super young, fresh and outwardly driven. The experience, knowledge, wisdom, patience and acceptance that come with maturity are frowned upon. Every success was supposed to have occurred yesterday. Society’s obsession is so great that those who find themselves perhaps slipping behind a little are resorting to cheating and “fudging” the results to seem as if they’re still in the forefront.
Perhaps at this point, you’re wondering what brought on this seemingly spontaneous but accurate observation. A few things.
The first has been sneaking up on me in leaps and bounds lately. I’m getting older. I look older and, to be honest, it’s freaking me out. The face that looks back at me from the mirror seems to have suddenly aged ten years in the last five years. Throughout my life, I have been very fortunate to look younger than my age. It runs in my family. However, my former privilege has left me for some reason. My perception is that I look older than my age now.
This is admittedly affecting my confidence badly. Especially as I am re-entering the world after a 27-year marriage. Initially, I just presumed that I would meet someone new and have another long relationship. Suddenly I realise that this assumption is perhaps very optimistic. Also, I have been working from the position that I now have the time and opportunity to explore new career curves.
Statistically, most women coming out of long marriages in my age group and older don’t meet anyone else and don’t have or succeed in new work opportunities. Their lives don’t open up with possibilities. The double standard is alive and strong.
Men remarry, often to much younger women, and continue to move forward in their careers.
Then, to add to my misery, I heard some news from a dear friend I’ve had since my teens. She and her husband are retiring! Granted they have a few reasons that are affecting their decision. But, retiring! I’m just getting ready to get going again.
I simply can’t go to this getting older place. The place where you don’t look youthful and the way society wants you to look. Only planning for the latter, quiet part of my life. No, I just can’t go there. So I’m having a very heated philosophical debate in my head about our society’s warped perceptions and priorities. Progress is slow, but I’ll let you know the outcome.