Victoria here. . .
Thank you, Kevin, for your heartfelt discussion on the need to reinvent ourselves as we age. I agree that remaking myself now as an older woman is similar to reinventing myself when I was younger.
Looking back, I see I’ve been challenged by limitations my entire life and forced to reinvent myself to survive. I also realize that remaking myself this way has made me stronger and led to unexpected accomplishments. I believe that changing myself to overcome limitations is what’s given my life depth and meaning.
How reinventions defined my life
After breaking my back on a trampoline and having surgery at 19, I learned how to strengthen my body by exercising and practicing yoga, which became a lifelong habit that I enjoy tremendously. I’m grateful for establishing those habits early on because they’ve supported my lifelong good health.
I had no choice but to reinvent myself again at 33 when I became a single mom and the sole support of my two daughters. Not having an occupation was a serious limitation, so I had to remake myself. I went back to school, earned a Master’s degree, and became a psychotherapist, something I may not have done without the challenge. I went on to earn a doctorate because I was limited in what I could do without the additional education.
In retrospect, this was a long, demanding process that took over 10 years to complete while I raised my girls. Graduate school was daunting because I was socially phobic, so much so I could barely speak to people, let alone make friends or approach my teachers.
One thing that helped immensely during this period was a behavioral modification class I took. During one semester, I designed a behavioral plan wherein I committed to having two short conversations each day for a month—one with a social contact and the other with a professor or teaching assistant. I did as I intended, and in 30 days, I went from avoiding eye contact to having spontaneous conversations with strangers. Talking with my teachers made the material come alive, so I excelled academically as well.
I learned the valuable lesson that as much as our behavior determines our lives, we can change that behavior to become more of who we want to be. . .more than we ever imagined possible.
Reinventing myself as a senior
Becoming single again at 62, I thought my days of love and romance were over. Talk about feeling diminished! Family and friends said I was too old to date, but I was determined not to end up alone. I wanted one more chance to get the love thing right!
So, I ended up reinventing myself yet again, this time to be a sex-positive Diva! I became more physically active, slimmed down, changed how I looked, took Tantra classes, and started dating again. This was a lot more fun than sitting around feeling old, lonely, and sorry for myself.
But this journey was no cakewalk either because I had to force myself to go to the workshops and social gatherings. This was partly due to my social phobias but also because I was usually the oldest woman in the room. I was acutely aware that I did not have the face, body, or energy of a younger woman. But I kept showing up, and I learned one of life’s wonderful secrets: When you smile, no one sees your age, only your beauty.
And now, I’m reinventing myself as a married woman. Because I’ve been single most of my life, I have difficulty accepting that I’m truly loved and cherished. I don’t always believe Kevin is on my side, but he is, so that is the false belief that’s limiting my life right now. To heal that early wound, I have to go deep within myself and let down my guard. Because I do trust and love him very much, I’m going to this scary place inside myself. I am working on reinventing myself as a trusting person. It’s about time, don’t you think?
Always a new chapter
The thing is we reinvent ourselves many times over our life span. Adapting, growing, and changing don’t stop when we hit 50 or 60 or even 70. The truth is life is a series of reinventions. . .we are always adjusting to our changing circumstances, good and bad. Old age is no different—it is merely another opportunity to transform ourselves and experience life in yet another way.
Never before now have humans had the opportunity to grow and thrive during what has previously been called “old age.” The reason old age has not been considered an opportune time for personal growth is because people haven’t lived as long or had the health benefits we do now. In the past, people settled into being old at around 50 or 60—game over, go home and die.
Now when men and women reach that age, they realize they can live another 20 years in relatively good health. Which makes it possible to live out forgotten dreams and finish plans that fell by the wayside during a busy life.
What heartfelt desire slipped away from you and never became reality? What fantasy have you secretly wanted to experience? Is there a cherished dream you’ve been harboring all these years that you can bring alive now? Don’t wait to make it happen.
In the next post, we offer specific steps on how to reinvent yourself and enjoy a great life as you age!
How have you been reinventing yourself as you’ve aged? Let us know in the comments below!