Celebrating the Older Woman — Why Fitting in is Overrated

Celebrating the Older Woman

Fitting in is overrated

Am I comfortable in my skin? Yes. Am I a misfit? Yes of a sort. One who tried to fit in but didn’t. One who was forced by circumstances to create her own world where she could live a life others thought to be bohemian and unconventional. The answer to my predicament the pathway that is unfolding before me. As each piece falls into place, doors open and joy enters my heart. The veil is being lifted revealing a new clarity for my soul and spirit. Sometimes it takes a tragedy for one to become so dissatisfied with the status quo that the hunger and thirst becomes overwhelming. The desire must be satisfied. For me the catalyst to finish college was my father’s death in 1995. In May 2002 I graduated cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College. Receiving my BA at age 43 set the stage for everything else in my life that has come after. I also began some relevant artistic pursuits while in my forties.

My Aunt Helen used to tell me life begins at 40 and that many great things would happen to me during that decade. She was correct. There are really no great literary pronouncements for crossing the half century mark, but Mother Nature has designed Menopause to mark that transfiguration in a woman’s life. I’m now going through the “Change of Life” and what I used to think of as just physical changes amount to more than that. After 50 your spirit and soul cry out for fulfillment. Naturally each woman has her own personal definition of the type of fulfillment they want and mine has centered on my writing career.

Strangely enough my writing and my artistic pursuits are about to collide. A super nova of sorts, creating an entire new universe populated by my hopes, dreams, goals, and desires all waiting to be birthed. All I ever wanted was for God to open the door for me so that I could just walk through. I believe my prayers are being answered.

Vulnerability.  I’m afraid but I’m gonna do it anyway. This fear is pushing me out of my comfort zone to explore my feelings and emotions. Confront my demons and insecurities. It is the most poignant and perhaps the most important quality in everyone I know. There’s a misfit in each of us, and it’s the most delicate, precious thing that we have. I’m releasing my inner misfit from her cocoon and allowing her to fly free. Free spirit. Free Thinker. Individual.  Seizing opportunities. Living my dream.

I don’t know how much confidence or courage is involved. Motivated more by the fear of disappearing and in this youth oriented culture as a woman ages she becomes invisible and loses her desirability. Young people in particular young women have many preconceived notions about what a woman over 50 should be, do and look like. You wouldn’t believe some of the things the young woman at my workplace say to me. For some of them I may as well have one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel! Then I’ve encountered resistance to my free spirited attitude towards life from older women also. Perhaps it is wonder in the young and jealousy from the old.

Action is the sure fire way to overcome insecurities and inhibitions. Sometimes you have to do the unexpected, not necessarily for others but to reaffirm me, to celebrate me and the uniqueness I bring to this world.

Outside of a few fellow free thinkers, I’ve told no one, not even my sister friends. The only person I felt I could confide in was one of the Black supervisors on my job. He’s been very kind, understanding and supportive towards me. This gentleman is a few years older than me but he is open-minded. From past bad experiences I’ve learned to be very careful, very selective as to whom I share pieces of my vision with.

Usually I dislike the coming of autumn because I know that winter is not far behind but now I have a new hope that the creative side of me will gain exposure and have further expression.

34 thoughts on “Celebrating the Older Woman — Why Fitting in is Overrated

  1. Hi Sister! I saw your comment at the Afrospear. It wasn’t published yet but I wanted to come and see what you’re doing here! It sounds exciting so far, because I’m your age, and trying to decide if I have what it takes to be a writer. I’ve written alot at the Afrospear and my own blogs, but I wonder if writing is my calling? I’ve had a career of sorts, I worked in the Library and a bookstore for a total of 25 years, and still have a love for books and history and culture. I want to teach these things through writing. But am I too old to think of going back to school? This is my battle and I have overcome it by about 80% I think. Visit my blog at
    nachalooman.wordpress.com

    I’ve got you own my blog list!

    1. Anna, Hello Sister! Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your message. Thanks for reading and subscribing to my blog. Yes you do have what it takes to be a writer. Personally I’m just following the gift that God gave me. Actually it only began to blossom when I turned 50 last year. I don’t know 50 must be a magical age, maybe moreso than 40! LOL! Anyway I know for sure that writing is my destiny, my passion, and the desire of my heart. When I write poetry or more recently short stories it is like I’m swept up into another world, a universe of my own creation. In writing I’m completely satisfied and fulfilled. Nothing except perhaps being with a handsome guy, gives me greater pleasure.
      As for returning to school, I don’t think that you are ever too old to earn another degree you just have to weigh your current responsibilities vs. time, money, committment, etc… Now yes as you know from my writing I’m single but my job at the museum has me working odd hours, in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends. This is not conducive to studies. A Masters degree might be in my future but not right now. I need for God to Bless me with a scholarship, free time or a more flexible schedule and a way to pay my daily expenses. When all that comes together I’ll return. Another factor for me is I keep changing my mind regarding what Masters program I want to pursue. Now I’m thinking Creative Writing. Let’s see if I stick with that decision. Who knows maybe I don’t need another sheepskin to be a successful published writer.
      BTW, I’m starting an erotica webpage also on wordpress that will debut at the end of this month. My pen name/alter ego is Leda Huguette. Blog address ledahuguette.wordpress.com. Cannot have the people on my job realize who’s writing those sexy stories. Actually nothing is on the blog now. It’s blank until I can get all the stories together the way I want them. I’m a perfectionist in my writing and if its not the way I want it that particular story will never see the light of day. http://www.indiegogo.com/JephthahDaughters?a=1641975&i=wdgi
      My normal persona’s email address is: deborah.palmer280@gmail.com

      Happy Writing!

  2. I have noticed this as well. In Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series a medicine woman tells protagonist Claire that when her hair turns white, she will come into her power. Whether it is literal for Claire has yet to be revealed, but I certainly feel it metaphorically in my own life.

    I feel myself becoming more of a free spirit these days. I’ve gone from voting for the ultra-conservative Reform party twenty years ago to voting for the ultra-left Greens or NDP (aka the Socialists)! My clothes are artsy, flowing, and colourful. I live my passions. There is no one looking over my shoulder telling me I can’t do whatever I want, and while I sometimes wonder how quiet hubby is handling it, he assures me he’s delighted with my literary success.

    It is a wonderful thing to leap into becoming what has been in our heart for a long time. There is a soul deep satisfaction and contentment.

    1. Yes we change not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as we age. Personally I feel I’m evolving. However concerning my hair I did start coloring it last year. I’ve gone from a conservative brown to a vibrant Red Head. I always wanted to be a Red Head and thanks to L’Oreal Feria I am! I feel that Red matches my personality and I do wear a lot of colorful clothes. I don’t really have a steady boyfriend nor do I go out on dates but I can truly say I’m at the point where I’m only concerned about pleasing myself not a man. However one day perhaps I’ll meet a man who can accept me for who I am, in the meantime I’m enjoying all the opportunities and adventures that come my way. Thanks for the comment.

  3. writersforacause

    Love your thoughts here! I’ve never really fit in either, which has advantages and disadvantages, but you need both to be who you are, and you sound awesome! 🙂

    Thank you for talking about aging as a woman. I am 43 and have some minor health issues, but since I’ve always had some, it’s not as big of a deal as it might be to some people. I’m not afraid of aging. What I don’t look forward to is exactly what you describe: the youth-focused culture, the expectation that I won’t continue to be a little weird, the judgments from others who have a preconception of what old should look and act like, the naturalists who think dying your hair or getting facials is a denial of age…but then, always being a little fringe, I guess those judgments aren’t so different than what we oddballs have put up with all our lives, right? Those aren’t bad tradeoffs for being exceptional.

    As far as writing…in my teens and 20’s, I worried if I was really happy, I wouldn’t have anything to write about (you know…the myth we learn in school that all good writers are Edgar A. Poe or John Steinbeck…depressing and sick), but I realized as I continued to write and recall I’ve been writing since I was a kid, those really are myths. Then I wondered if, once I’ve gone through menopause, my creativity would plummet with my hormones. I’m glad you testify that’s not true. Writing is a huge part of my self-expression, and losing the ability altogether would be…well, let’s not worry about that. Today is today, right?
    http://www.indiegogo.com/JephthahDaughters?a=1641975&i=wdgi
    Peace and love to you!

  4. On the eve of my 50th birthday I met with my parents and broke my silence about the way I was treated as a child. It was a game-changer for me as a professional, as a mother and as a wife. I’m still working on my business! It never ends. It’s what I’m here to do. It’s what I blog about–not to have ‘the last say,’ but to talk about myself and make room for healing and growth. Especially with my parents.

    I feel free, even though it isn’t always easy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Professional life had its rewards. It also had its betrayals and sorrows. I haven’t looked back. Except to befriend that little girl who was damaged and silenced. I’m learning to be her ally, and to stand with and for her whenever I feel the urge to ignore her. She still needs me and I need her. I’m beyond grateful to God for this time of my life, and for women and men like you who give me courage to keep telling the truth.

    Elouise

  5. Coming of age comes with the freedom that shouldn’t be reined in to suit other people’s warped perception of how someone should be at a certain age. I’d rather stay and be different than to fit in and lose myself.
    ‘Sometimes you have to do the unexpected, not necessarily for others but to reaffirm me, to celebrate me and the uniqueness I bring to this world.’
    I am focused on reaffirming myself each day and living my uniqueness. Lovely post

  6. Wow…what a great message coming from a strong proud beautiful woman. I love this post so much Deborah. I wish I could re-blog or share this on my page. I feel like keeping your words close to me… to be reminded, to be inspired, to be blessed. I have a passion and desire to write, and through that a desire to be surrounded by fellow bloggers…which allow me to encounter beautiful souls like yourself.
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Love
    Chanty

  7. Beautiful, thought-provoking essay. It makes me so grateful to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing it.

    Some random thoughts.

    Agree women become devalued as they age. I think we need to bring back the notion of the wise old crone. Of course, not all old people are wise. Many are fools, but we could use a bit more respect for the ones who are wise.

    I’m 61, and from my perspective women around my age and older are a joy. They are self-confident, don’t have unreasonable expectations, tend to be wise, usually have decent senses of humor, are kind, etc.

    Self-fulfillment can very much be an up hill struggle if you are not better than most of us at being true to yourself.

    1. An old post. I don’t even know if I feel or think the same way. A lot changes in nearly ten years. My Brain is wired quite differently now. It’s like introducing my 60 year old Self to my 20year old Self. The two of us wouldn’t recognize each other nor do we have much in common.

      1. I was on a blogging roll back then. Lots of Poetry, Prose, and stories. Creativity was pouring out of my pores. Now I’m fortunate to have something suitable to share. My journal Notebook is nearly full but I’m not satisfied with the quality. Nor am I in a big hurry to finish.

      2. In terms of blog Posts appearances can be deceiving. Never take statements or articles for face value especially if you don’t know that person. Actually you only know what that person puts into print. To tell the truth you don’t really know anyone. There’s the Public face and the Private face.

      3. Yeah – I agree –
        And esp. about the public and private face-

        Oh And this is different – but does relate a little –
        there is accurate self- awareness and inaccuarate self -awareness and sometimes people think they are in tune with who they are but they are not – and unless find ways to shed light on truth – they cannot grow – or they cannot see the real them

      4. Absolutely. Truth. I agree. Self awareness is a Journey of discovery. Who you were and how you responded to life can change within the span of ten years, ten months, ten days, ten hours or even 10 minutes.

      5. Bloggers relate their stories, their opinions, their beliefs and life experiences. But you never really know them. You only know a few things about them. The Lens I present to Outsiders has many filters.

        As the Bible scriptures say, We see through a glass darkly.

      6. I looked up the definition of self awareness. Seems to be something that takes a lifetime to develop. Appears to be another buzz word that makes People feel like failures. That’s why I ignore Memes, life hacks and people who call themselves Life Coaches.

        At my age I just want to Be. I’m not anyone’s leader, parent, inspiration, role model or reason for motivation. And I don’t want to be.

        All I want to do is Live out my last and final Senior years in peace, quiet and calm. That’s part of the reason why I rarely Post on this Blog anymore.

        Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.

      7. Returning to self awareness for a moment. Many People “do the work ” as the expression goes but sometimes those who should be helpful make the situation worse. Those with mental health challenges like depression, anxiety and panic attacks are often made worse not better by psychologists and psychiatrists. Being a survivor of the mental health system in New York City I have personal first hand knowledge of patient abuse. I spent two horrific weeks in March 2015 as a prisoner of the psychiatric ward. Most of the time I lived in terror knowing what would happen if I didn’t cooperate. However during intake one nurse told me you are smart you know what to do. Even in my fear that nurse was correct. I observed what happened to people who acted out and did the opposite. I was extremely Cooperative. Did everything they told me to do including going to “group” which other than art classes was a useless activity. I said the right things and I was released from hell. Only the anti psychotic drugs they prescribed caused me to have a psychotic break with reality. Spent an entire weekend having hallucinations. After that I threw the medication into the garbage and stopped my outpatient Visits to the clinic.

        So much for Self awareness! More like self preservation!

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