I intend to live life, not just exist. – George Takei
One of the things I love the most about aging is how much better you learn to know yourself and not care as much about how you are perceived by others. That might sound a bit harsh, but to not be preoccupied about whether people like you or not, does not mean you don’t work on relationships. To me, it just means that it is much more important to me to know I have a high quality of friends and family in my life rather than a high quantity of the same. I am quite ok with accepting that not everyone I meet will be a life-long member of my inner circle. As I have grown older, I genuinely like myself. I do believe that humans root need in life is to connect with others. I am no different. I work very hard to maintain friendships, family relationships and acquaintances, however some of those may fade or will definitely change.
We change. I am definitely a much different person now than I was in my 20s and 30s. Those times for me, and I believe many others, were filled with trying to fit in, appeasing others and taking part in things that I really didn’t want to do. There is still a part of me who likes to keep the peace. I don’t feel the need to start conflict where there doesn’t need to be one, but if something is really against my belief system, I will voice that opposition. I try to not do it in a confrontational way, but in a way to foster understanding. It is more important for me to voice my opinion now than to have others adopt my belief. I have many friends and family members that I have polar opposite views with. What is necessary to me now, is to have respect shown towards my beliefs even if the other person does not share them. Something that I always work on is to return that same respect to others. I am getting better at acknowledging my right to be different as well as that right of others. That is is one of the beauties of having lived more years on this earth.
I am ok with having a “different” life. I like singer/songwriter music rather than pop. I love to garden, quilt and canning at 44 rather than some things more of my similar-aged counterparts do. I have much less need to “fit in” than my younger self did. I don’t have children but I love my cat and dog and view myself as their mom. I have strong political and ethical views and don’t mind expressing them. I also don’t mind others in my inner circle having different ones. I still love and respect them the same as if we had shared the same beliefs. I actually welcome respectful debate. I am not trendy, but love my family and friends who are.
My main qualities I look for in people are respect, kindness and willingness to express love. Those are the same qualities I aim to return. Those are things that have nothing to do with illness or physical ability.
These are the gifts age has brought me. Be proud of your weird self. I now let my eccentricities shine. Some will like them, and some will not. That is ok. All I need is people to provide me with the respect to live my life in whatever way I find necessary. Life is hard. Let’s not be so hard on the journey of others.
Much love and let your peculiarities add interest into our world.