Jobless Part 2 – Old?

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. – Madeleine L’Engle

My mother always used to say, ‘The older you get, the better you get, unless you’re a banana’. ” – Betty White

“Growing older is not upsetting; being perceived as old is.” – Kenny Rogers

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” – Satchel Paige 

When the heck did I get old? Oh, mind you as far as I’m concerned I’m not….but now that I am job hunting I am constantly asked about the age factor (from friends and family) and warned by the “career counselors” assisting me that I need to make sure I don’t advertise my age.

I’m 58. I’ve never hidden my age. I’ve always been curious about those who do. Exactly why do they do it? I assume they don’t want people to think they’re old. Well, in my case lying about my age has never been something I could even consider. I’m living in my hometown. My siblings and rest of my family members are here. Many of my former classmates are here. Friends of my family are here. So many people who would know my age and know if I would lie about it. Not that I would…,.but truly I couldn’t if I wanted to.

I still don’t feel a whole lot different than I was in high school or college. I have a bit of arthritis in my knees that has stopped me running through life at a break-neck speed, and keeps me from jumping (and since I can’t, I have found I used to jump a lot.) I went through peri-menopause into menopause (it happens), but at this point my body is pretty settled and there are no major adverse effects.

Am I more forgetful? I don’t know. Maybe. But I have always been pretty forgetful. I’m a thinker. I’m often pre-occupied. That’s why I occasionally get called on the carpet from good friends who I pass with a pleasant greeting and they recognize I am greeting them by rote and not because I notice it is them. According to them if there is not a sarcastic comment, I must not noticing they are there. I can’t lie…they may be right some of the time.

When working on my resume, the “branding specialist” discouraged me from including all of my employment history and told me to take the dates off all jobs except the last one. That one lasted almost 13 years. But rebellious me thinks that removing jobs and dates seems weird. I’m proud of my job history. I believe it makes me a better employee. I don’t believe being younger compares to the wisdom and wealth of knowledge I can bring. (But yes….I took their advice and removed the dates and reduced the number of positions I have held.)

When are we going to really wake up to the fact that people are living longer and healthier? When are we going to wake up to the fact that we are all different….that every 58 year old is not the same “age”? I know some people my age that seem like “old people”…..but the vast majority of 58-year olds I know are vibrant and vital and have much to offer….as do the 70, 80, and 90 year olds. (I don’t think I know anyone who is 100 at the moment….but I have heard of some incredible people.)

But take a look at the statistics. The average age for women retiring is 62. (Won’t be happening for me.) The average age for men 64. (Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.) It was sooner than I thought, so it makes a bit more sense for there to be caution. But looking at statistics it appears a huge number of my baby boomer people are without any, or sufficient, retirement savings. They may need to work. Many will live into their 100s. Others are in excellent physical and mental condition and want to continue to use their skills in the workplace. And why not? When it gets down to it, I figure my expected tenure is probably going to be longer than today’s 20 or 30 year olds who have learned the value of keeping their options open.

The good news is I probably won’t be hired by a company who has an issue with my age. If asked questions about my birthday or dates or time periods of my employment or college graduation, I will answer honestly. If they have an issue, they simply won’t hire me.

My takeaway from this is that we need to treasure the years and become agents of wisdom, confident as we age. I have seen our culture often be youth-obsessed, but we who are older have the ability to change that. I look around our town. Many of my age may spend their nights huddled in recliners in front of the TV, but not in my circles. They get out and live. And the really great thing? The circles I am a part of are ageless and tend to appreciate each age and time of life and celebrate it. As we should.

I’m not yet old as far as I am concerned. I am seasoned. And experienced. And content with my place in life. Hopefully employers will embrace that in me and others. If not, maybe they should re-evaluate what they may be missing.

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