To be an older, more senior, person has its advantages and disadvantages – the obvious being the wise and experienced juxtaposed by the physical, health conditions. But, saying that, there are also some social, personal and educational elements to a senior that are often overlooked, unless pointed out by a younger person.
This post comes about as we have older folks, family staying with us, plus working with older colleagues, it’s easy to criticize their, shall we say, ‘frustrating’, opinions, actions and mannerisms that don’t ‘fit’ with a younger outlook on life. So, this is a letter to my future self, highlighting what I think are potential drawbacks, as a senior in working and social environments dominated by the young.
Stay fit and physically strong
It’s very easy to let health and fitness slide a little in your youth, but not so much in old-age. Bones are not as strong, muscles are not at responsive and tendons are far from ‘elastic” as they used to be. However, the machine you have to carry your conscious-self from place top place, is the only one you’ll ever own. There is so much more to see, build, climb and explore – your health and physical condition is the backbone of happiness and well being. Don’t just sit around and wait for the day to pass by, keep moving, keep running – use it or lose it!
Keep your back straight
Your spine will become weaker as you continue to age, you may develop a hunch if you neglect good posture. The perception of others is based on visual appearance (first of all), a good posture presents a youthful appearance (not that you care), but, it also acts as a vehicle for mental strength and confidence (the Peter Pan pose before a meeting). You will naturally shrink with old age, standing up straight and keeping good posture will save your back!
Don’t identify as old
Yeah, yeah of course your old and past it – but, one thing that really highlights this point, is to address those younger than you as not as old as you are. What I mean is – don’t say things like, “when I was your age…” or “well, you’re not as old as I am…” or the worst yet “things are different now to when I first started…”. Gah! Doing this only demeans and divides the age groups. Yes, you’re older that others, but highlighting that fact ‘says’ the world you’re in now is confusing and not as easy as it “used to be”. The young don’t like hearing it and you probably feel like a fraud saying it. So remember, you’re a part of this world, let go of the past, embrace the now and expect the future.
Be wise, but don’t foresee
If there’s one thing discussions with seniors about Brexit has taught this younger self, it’s the notion that things will remain the same because of a historic experience and the ability to see generational patterns pass over time. True, with experience and age comes an ability to see similarities in cultural and political advances, but ‘psychology’ shows us that memory is purely subjective, we tend to remember the ‘good’ and forget the ‘bad’ (or at least how bad it really was). Memories can also be manipulated, combined with dreams, and mixed together with different memories – a personal account of a historic event is not evidence to the outcome of a future one. Identify similarities in life events but, don’t use them as conclusions.
Be decisive, don’t dodder
If there’s anything more annoying about an older person it’s the condition of doddering. To dodder about for anyone is frustrating beyond belief for those looking to ‘get on’ with a task at hand. To tackle this debilitating (for all) condition – ‘just do something’, whatever it is, ‘just do it’. OK, for context, as an example, when leaving the house (with a group of people) don’t stand in the hall, asking who is driving, locking up, or deciding how to best exit the property. If walking somewhere, don’t stand in foot traffic making a decision about a possible wrong turn – stand to the side, out of the flow, re-group, and start again
Don’t draw attention to individuals in crowds
This, in my experience, only happens to people of old age. An example would be, younger members of your party are some distance from you, do not call out their name to get their attention – this is hugely embarrassing to the young when in a social crowd; you might as well be saying “William, time for dinner, come on in and east your greens”. Gah! If you can, simply walk over and tell them the restaurant table is ready, it’s far better than announcing to everyone who you are and what it is you’re about to do.
Keep learning, even if you’ve seen it all before
Guess what… you haven’t. You’re young self has had many experiences where an expected result was not as expected for the more senior of folk. The ‘new’ is always being thrown to the wall and whatever sticks, generally stays around for a while – that does not mean it’s the best, just the most popular at the time. There are benefits to reiterating things and being a part or at least versed and aware of them will keep your brain nimble and ensure you don’t fall into the category of being ‘stuck in your ways’. Identify and consider the new, don’t shrug it off – young people can’t help feeling those over 43 are locked into a mind-set and are too closed minded to even consider change
Respect your appearance, even if you don’t feel like it
Yeah, who cares what you look like – you know how you feel about the fashion industry – a vacuous, self-absorbed gaggle of fakery! But, that said, staying ‘smart’ and with a trend does not mean you’re looking to identify as a youngling, you sad man, trying too hard to look like one of the kids! Rather, don’t dress in clothes from your long-lost-past (you know that jumper that never dies, you’ve had it for over 30 years), ‘comfy’ is not the excise, respect your appearance by dressing to your age, not looking like an old man from the past, who just invented a time machine.
If you do, you’ll age faster! Rather, change your career, specialise – use the wise and considerate part of yourself to advance into new areas. There are many things that you can do to make money that don’r require backbreaking work – don’t stop making, be board, seek out new things, work for yourself. Die doing something you love, not sitting on your arse.
From the perspective of a 40 year old, I do not feel old, quite the opposite. I have done and experienced many things, perhaps more than most at my age, perhaps not – whatever future it may be future Will, remember, hindsight is never 20/20.