Those of you who have been avid followers of The 50 Plus Male since its inception are aware I “fought the good fight” against joining AARP (dating back to You Always Remember Your First). You also know I finally “swallowed my pride” and recently joined this august organization. AARP members automatically receive AARP The Magazine, and two articles in the latest issue have set-off a round of mental volleys that I’m having trouble resolving.
One brief discussion centers around people 50+ years of age being more trusting than younger adults. The premise is that we tend to more readily trust others, allowing us to widen our sphere of friendships. These experiences help us to become more perceptive in judging character and separating fact from fiction.
My response to this: really??
Without sounding overly cynical, I’ve encountered too many instances of the opposite behavior amongst my 50+ year old brethren to endorse this view. As we age, I find more and more of us becoming less forgiving…this conduct manifests in the increasing number of us judging people based on whatever is occurring during the worst of times instead of shaping views based over a sustained period. Unfortunately, I can personally attest to this shortsightedness; mind you, I am trying to be as polite as possible here.
Presently enduring an increasingly long stretch of trying to effect a career change has brought about some rather severe lifestyle changes for my wife and I…those 50+ males in similar circumstances know how disheartening these circumstances can become, especially via pressures felt by our spouses, who should always remain our primary concern. What’s disconcerting is the surprisingly malevolent remarks made to me, and more importantly my wife, by some of our “friends” about our present situation. The level of vitriol bandied about is generally discharged without any knowledge on the part of others as to what is taking place on a daily basis re: my efforts to right the ship. It makes me wonder if the previous three-plus decades when everything was progressing smoothly, or, to quote Plato, we were thriving as opposed to surviving, even existed…
Why is it that when we become older (again, my opinion) facts tend to fly out the window and we revel in the fall of others? Isn’t this instead the time to grow more introspective and really try to form mature, factual opinions based on the entirety of one’s life to this point rather than myopically focusing on just our present lot? Simply put, do people really understand?
The oft-stated premise that “unless you’ve walked a mile in another person’s shoes, forming a valid opinion is without merit” is an assertion to which I wholeheartedly subscribe. Any 50+ individuals out there who have not had to re-brand themselves, (the subject of the second of the AARP articles previously referred to), don’t know from whence you speak. This concept of self-branding, developed by management guru Tom Peters, is difficult and time-consuming; indeed for many in our age bracket, it goes against our very nature since it can feel like a form of self-braggadocio. As the article states, you have to learn how to become CEO of your own new company, Me Inc. This requires digging deep and thinking about how your working life can (finally) become both pleasurable and fruitful, coupled with new levels of learning in order to avoid obsolescence. Determining one’s value proposition is never an easy task…progressing through the necessary steps to possibly change this is an even more difficult exercise, particularly at this stage of our lives. So again I ask, do people really understand?
Honestly folks, this post wasn’t composed for purposes of venting or complaining, and I’m cognizant, even hopeful this discussion will induce some strongly-felt feedback. If both my own circle of friends and yours have gained a broader perspective in how to surmise a truer fact-based assessment, my job is done. If they haven’t learned anything and merely want to fire the next volley…well, bring it on, I’ve got a broad set of shoulders!