Once we reach our mature status (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) we have experienced numerous things over quite a few years. Are we mere historical artefacts? I hope not!
For most of us, we have worked, grown up with friends and family, watched man landing on the moon, seen human tragedy and national disasters, voted a lot, seen the reign of the world’s longest serving monarch, watched old countries disappear, new countries emerge and seen the price of bread increase significantly. We’ve seen droughts and flooding rains, technology that was merely the dream of a sci-fi writer become reality and some, like me, continue to contemplate in wonder that Keith Richards is still with us.
We know stuff, we have skills, some that maybe our parents handed down to us, and we do have a sense of history; very much so if we or our parents came from another country.
Some of us however, may have a sense of worthlessness now our working lives have finished and may suffer from depression, or increasing physical or mental impairments. This may cause us to feel like just sticking to ourselves and rolling up in a ball in the corner.
You are better than this!
The narrative of your life will be full of interest to someone, particularly a younger person who does not have your sense of history. You are capable of imparting knowledge of what you have seen and done in your life. That doesn’t have to be spectacular, but it is a perspective gained over the years that someone who hasn’t experienced what you have, doesn’t, and can’t possibly, have.
I did talk about volunteering in an earlier post and don’t propose to revisit that, but your options to share knowledge and experience or just to keep someone company and have a conversation may fall into that category.
Closer to home there maybe your own aging parents, children and grandchildren to engage with. Now I’m not silly enough to think these family situations are all easy or necessarily even productive, but where there are reasonable opportunities to help out and value add, particularly with grandchildren; your contribution can be of very high value.
That value is not just as a cheap shopping or babysitting service, far from it; it is an opportunity to share your knowledge and experiences.! Once interest is ignited, then the questions will follow. It doesn’t have to be the tragedy of “trudging 15 miles to school in the snow with bare feet” (apologies to Monty Python), but they may be interested you know how your bread was delivered by the baker in a horse drawn cart, or that your next door neighbours used to have an ice chest, not a refrigerator.
A wander through a photo album is bound to elicit questions like “did you really have hair like that at school?” – a story in itself! Now, there’s a good reason for you to spend some time to go through that old box of photos and put them in some order? You were going to do that one day, weren’t you?
An area where life experiences may also be shared with genuine interest can be book groups. Not only do these groups provide an opportunity to diversify your reading material, but also engage your intellect and share experiences in discussion with others. Also, our experience with the University of the Third Age (U3A) is of a forum that welcomes people sharing knowledge within their communities as well as attracting outside guest speakers. Involvement, not only from contributing speakers, but also other community members by way of questions and reflective experiences, has often been fascinating. So you don’t have to get up and speak, but you still have the opportunity to participate, learn and grow.
It may be that you fancy yourself as a speaker and want to improve your public speaking as a personal challenge. Make no mistake, ALL people who speak publicly, act or perform get the jitters, it’s not easy, but even in our latter years, we may wish to prepare a little for that occasion when you are asked to “say a few words”. Attending groups like Toastmasters or Rostrum in your local area can not only help your self-confidence, but also provide an interesting outlet for expressing your experiences in developing material for your own speaking assignments, as well as learning through listening to others.
Do you value yourself? What experiences have you had in valuing yourself? Did you find challenges with a changed life orientation? What advice do you have for others?