Erik Erikson

Fabulous “Enough” and “Older” at 65

At 60 there was little doubt Cathy and I were totally fabulous. Fabulous is many things, but simply put it indicates living and deciding how to live at a constant state of high standards and strong principles – being a good person, a good citizen, family member and friend. It is caring about oneself and one’s life, work, obligations and connections and, yes, how we look. It implies trying harder and doing more than just slouching toward the end zone of one’s life.

A fabulous woman has respect for everyone and many things, but most definitely respects and cherishes herself. Fabulous women aren’t victims, takers, people who do the minimum, connivers or bad people. They are not perfect but they are perfectly fine in the broadest sense of that word and absolutely self responsible.

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At 65, we know we are still completely capable of being fabulous. But, it is no longer a given. Working at being fabulous takes more energy that on some days we just don’t have (or what I find very telling), we don’t want to have. Let me not speak for “us”; let me say for just me, some days it is now OK for me not to be fabulous. Ouch. I never thought I would say that. But it is true. Finally, at age 65, I just let myself off the hook in one or another small way that I have learned doesn’t matter or shouldn’t matter any more. And in my view, that means I am not quite as fabulous – but fabulous enough.

The term I am getting more comfortable with is “older”. I know I am not young. I know I am not middle aged, but I am not yet ready to be called or labeled old. To me old, and I do think I will be old, is 80 and up. Just how I feel it goes in this early part of the 21st century. Certainly 100 or less years from now, old may be 90 – or 100 – but from where I sit, where and what I see, it is now 80. Of course I know developmental psychologists have a number of models that label stages of life in other terms than simply old and young and older. Stages of one’s life is a common way of looking at a person’s life from birth till death that explains the challenges and approaches to life one takes at various times. It is interesting reading if you haven’t had the chance to explore it.

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I bring this up because my comfort with being called and labeled “older”, is for me a great bit of progress. Being “older” doesn’t let me off the hook for anything I don’t want to do anymore. That is being lazy – and women who use the “I am older” card to get out of perfectly simple things clearly are not fabulous. But being “older” to me implies I have had certain experiences that have given me knowledge about what works for me and what does not work for me right now.

I have exercised enough to know when my body says no more and means it.

I have prayed enough and meditated enough to know when it isn’t worth praying for something or my mind and heart are not ready for the truths being whispered to my highest self.

I have worked enough to know when something just isn’t worth the time, effort or money that has to go into it to achieve anything.

I have done enough things that I did not want to do believing they were the right or only thing to do to know for sure that some things are truly important and absolutely worth doing even if you don’t want to. But that list is VERY small versus all the stuff I thought was on that list.

And I have worn enough “on sale” or second rate outfits to know being cheap with oneself is always a bad investment.

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So I am at peace with being older – and I like it. It doesn’t hurt my feelings that I just don’t want to do or be something anymore. Selectively it is OK. It is what I earned. I am not so much letting myself off the hook as I am conserving my lessening energy and passion for those things and people that honestly are important for me now.

If you just give up because things are hard, you lose your fabulous self. But when you are more discriminating in the BEST sense of that word, you become someone more deeply yourself: mysterious and wonderful. “Older” – and that is just fabulous enough for me.

Patty

Yikety Yak – Yikes – It’s The Yik Yak App!

More on the controversial smartphone app Yik Yak in a moment, but reading about it made me wonder if we shouldn’t bring back parents and grandparents who are not judgmental party poopers – but who are adults with knowledge and competence. Adults know some things that children do not because they are not mature enough, or able to understand and store it in their still developing brains.

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These adults can and SHOULD make some judgments and then insist on not “blind obedience” (sadly we had to deal with lots of that) but rather “compliance” – a word I like MUCH better and is both softer and more appropriate in the 21st century. These judgments need to be shared, not to be arbitrary, cruel or bossy two-shoes, but to protect young children and teens from their under-developed minds. That and the resulting stupid, inappropriate and cruel things they are capable of doing just because they are young.

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Enter Yik Yak.

From the NY Times: “Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location, or, in many cases by university … Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board … Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.”

“Yik Yak is the wild west of anonymous social apps, said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace”.

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Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, recent graduates of Furman University in South Carolina are the developers of the app which they intended to be democratic – giving everyone a chance to share even if they did not have many “friends” or “followers”. Sounds good — no fabulous women over 60 are down on democracy, but the iPhone and Android app, which is one of the most frequently downloaded in the Apple Store, seems to have created some very difficult and ugly situations for students, teachers, deans, and others on college campuses. Sadly, it is gaining ground in middle and high schools too.

** Google’s Android has recently dropped the app from its app store charts. It hasn’t been banned, it is just harder to find.

Despite all the push back and anger of those injured by its ability to anonymously publish anything about anyone that is not a direct threat (that would be a no no – police recently tracked down a freshman who made a direct threat to someone – he was arrested) there isn’t much anyone can do about it. Free speech of course trumps most efforts at curtailing it. But shouldn’t all adults who know about this application ask our own children and grandchildren to explain why and how they are using it? In other words, we fabulous women need to take some responsibility!

The developers feel that better uses will happen – via NY Times: “It’s definitely still a learning process for us. And we’re definitely still learning how to make the community more constructive.”

I agree the developers are still learning. However, it seems to me some of that learning needed to go on prior to the launch of the application. The experience of millions has informed most of us that giving young people a free pass to say anything they want without any consequences and to be able to do it anonymously doesn’t sound like a good idea. It puzzles me who thought it would lead to good?

Shouldn’t we as adults be on top of this stuff? Or maybe we are too busy on our own social media accounts to pay much attention. I remember my parents saying dozens of times “you will understand when you grow up”. Most of the time I did – maybe we need to give our children and grandchildren a chance to say the same at least a few times. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Patty Gill Webber

 

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