The Aging Body and What it Means to your Career

Holy Cow! My body is Aging! and I think it might affect my Job Prospects….. 

It has taken me about 4 years to adjust to the beginning of the aging process. I am currently 52 and my friends in their 60’s tell me I really am just at the beginning.

I remember hitting 40 and wondering what the big deal was.

I had reading glasses, some gray hair, laugh lines, crows feet. Whatever.    

And then I hit 50. Wow. Wow. Wow. Totally unprepared.

Now, I cannot function without reading glasses in handy grabbing distance     

Lost waistline. What the hell?

Cannot lose weight. Yet go to the gym 4 days week.

Wake up stiff.

Forgetful. What is that word for, you know…?

How has all the elasticity in my face disappeared?

Seem to have an irrational urge to tell kids to stay off my lawn…. 

To me, the biggest part is how I look now and consequently how I am perceived. I have heard people say “an old person is a young person who looks in the mirror and wonders what the hell happened.”

EXACTLY.

Who is this Old Person and HOW did this happen?

I grieve for my cute figure and easy going approach to wardrobe choices. I am aware I am still on the “easy” side of this. Many people tell me they are surprised at my age. That I look younger than I am. That i have 3 grandchildren. So, when I DO look my age, how differently will the world treat me? And how will I handle the mirror? I really understand the plastic surgery approach now. It is an attempt to stop the clock. To feel like you “still have it.” This change in looks is  frightening. Disorienting. I’ve been “this” for so long and now I’m “THIS?” GAWD. I don’t know how to be “THIS”. No one is helping me and I’m disappointed. I, like many women, took pride in my looks. When I lose those, who am I? I had no idea now important looks were in our culture until I started losing them. My friend told me aging for me would be hard because I’ve always been pretty. She said those who haven’t, have an easier time. Insightful perspective.

And why did no one warn me? You get years of warning and preparation for adolescence. And you get all kinds of slack, “she is in a moody stage now”, “he is having growing pains”, etc. I don’t recollect any free passes coming my way for my menopausal ‘tudes.

I think we do our citizens in our culture a real disservice in not preparing for the aging process. It feels as major to me as adolescence. It is a huge life change and I was not prepared.

Or was I?

Am I experiencing the remnants of my adolescent brain that  just wouldn’t listen? “Oh, that won’t happen to me. That happens to other people.” Just like the teen concept of car accidents, unwanted pregnancy, drug addiction. Those things happen to “other” people.

Fast forwad to today. I have adjusted (for now). Making peace, changing the way I shop and dress. Taking my health way more seriously than ever. We even stopped drinking alcohol! And the world has kept turning.

When I hear about the rampant age-ism in the work place, I know I must be prepared for it. It is real, it is a reality. To add the cruelty of the whole job hunting along with the blows of aging is a body blow.

Note: We need to be nice to our fellow citizens who are going through this. Compassion is needed. Some babying is needed too. They need some time to curl up and cry. They are grieving. And grief is real.

When they (or you) are ready, we must all build up our arsenal of skills and abilities in our new world. The world IS new. Our parents and grandparents advice or insights are often not relevant to the changes happening. Much of what they used isn’t relevant anymore.

Yes, yes, a handful of skills will always be relevant regardless of your age and I’d be remiss in not mentioning them:  

  1. compassion
  2. strong work ethic
  3. listening skills
  4. doing what you say you will do
  5. showing up, on time, ready to work

And we older folks do have some sought after skills that are getting some good press. We tend to not call in sick as much, we tend to listen and learn. We didn’t grown up with helicopter parents so we tend to be fairly independent thinkers with the ability to be self starters.

Yes, I am making generalizations and yes I can be called age-ist towards younger people with me previous statements. That is not my intention. My intention is:

  • We are aging.
  • We are in a new time that requires adjustment and often some help.
  • We must adjust because our world is changing.
  • The job world is changing fast and we must adjust to it.
  • We are here to help each other through this.

The theme of this post will be expanded on and links added as we learn together.

Please chime in your experience, fears, ideas and as always, solutions. If you think this post resonates with a friend, please share!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *