As we get older we care less about what people think but does it ever completely go away? Maybe not.
The focus may change from people thinking about how we look (smart, sharp, go-getter) to thinking we are a good person or a talented person or someone worthy of taking up space. We still like people (at least most people) to think good things about us.
High school years were the worst. I always liked to be slightly different but not too different. I wanted to stick out but not too much. Just enough to get noticed. It could be for my math skills or my very egalitarian approach to being a basketball lead. (No, I couldn’t play worth a darn but I let the people who wanted to play get out there. When people want to do something it’s a recipe for success! First business lesson I learned.)
Then came the business years. Oy vay! Work hard, nose to the grindstone. You hope your good work gets noticed and opportunity knocks. I was lucky. It did.
Retirement is different. I don’t need to get ahead in a job nor do I care if peers find me skilled. I’m at the place where I just want people to think I am worthy of taking up space. (Believe me, there are people who are not! Yes, that’s sound judgmental but I never said I was perfect.)
Just as in the other stages of life, there are different paths. People label you by the path you pick. Active, interesting, on-the-go, travelers – those are adjectives you hear. You rarely hear that someone is very introspective. You can’t see that. It’s not a trip to the Galapagos Islands or running a bus trip to the casino or singing in a choir.
Compared to my previous life, my current one has a lot less chaos. There is less travel and less large groups of people. All are my choice. Yet, there are days when you get that question “what do you do with all of your time.” (It’s the tone that makes it annoying!)
The easy answer is “anything I want.” It’s different for different days, weeks, months, and seasons. I don’t know how I fit a full-time job in with my activities. (We all know how that works. Eliminate most of the ones you want to do to do the ones you need to do.)
I write a lot. It’s not something you see unless you look at my coffee table. I write for me so there is no money. Yet for someone who is action-oriented, they don’t understand the interest. (I, on the other hand, can’t understand the allure of an RV camping life when you have a beautiful home with a pond. Really, I try not to be judgmental about that.)
If there’s no money, award or monument, what’s the point?
Peace and happiness.
To answer my original question, you need to learn to affirm yourself. Your choices, no matter what they are, should make you happy, especially in retirement.
This is for all my retired friends – blogger and non-bloggers.