Early this fall, I went to Creative Alliance’12, a weekend in Ojai with some forty other creative types to bond and hang out and help each other grow to our next stages. The last night, about half of us read our current work out loud. Funny, sad, shocking, poignant–each of us had something that was important for us to say. Here was mine:
I feel I’m on the cusp of something…going on and up. Or maybe not.
I’m older than most of you; does that make a difference?
When I first started blogging, went to my first BlogHer in 2006, I still looked and seemed young enough that I felt I could pass. I was actually 61. If you’d asked, I’d admit to 51–okay, maybe 47. I was still one old chick for that BlogHer crowd, and I was, quite obviously, long past the point of being a mommyblogger. But I loved the world of blogging, the blogosphere, the bloggers and I wanted them to if not love me back than at least respect me and count me as one of their number.
And so I entered the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Age closet (DADTA). What I felt so strongly then was that I was, despite my years, still in the upward trajectory of my career. I had the same ambitions as bloggers in their 20s and 30s or 40s, so why should the fact that I wasn’t shut the door for me? But I’m essentially such a straight arrow that I had a hard time even trying to lie about my age. I would only do it when some site demanded I give my year of birth. Then I would close my eyes, shut my nose and say, 1955. But even at that I was still older than most of my colleagues.
Did it matter? Yes, it did. It’s about that authentic self thing, you know. The Jane who was born in 1945 comes with an array of memories and experiences that have made her who she is. Lopping off the first ten years of them had the effect, as any psychologist could tell you, of denying the foundation of my formative years. So, just as I decided to stop coloring my hair–who the hell did I think I was kidding, after all–I decided to own up to my age.
Out of the Age Closet…
I did it first with a 38 year old friend. We were buying tickets to see a movie, and I asked for the Senior rate. When she questioned that, I flipped my driver’s license at her. There, in all it’s glory, was my birthdate: July 3rd, 1945. She was shocked, but she didn’t turn heel and run and she has remained my friend. I took from that some reassurance that I’m not too old for this gig. Except–now I’m not so sure.
Whereas before I still saw myself as on the upward trajectory of my career, now I’m thinking I may have crossed some threshold. When I started MidLifeBloggers in 2008, I was one of the very few in my demographic pool. I envisioned a place where as our tagline said, we could make the most of midlife together. In my mind’s eye, I saw a site that would offer the best of what the consciousness raising sessions gave us back in the 70s–support, friendship, a voice and a place to grow. I also saw MidLifeBloggers as tapping into the glory of all that marketing.
After seven plus years blogging and four of nurturing MidLifeBloggers, I am for the first time surrounded by others who have blogs similar to mine. Women and men with the same goals. I wouldn’t say the blogosphere is actually crowded with midlifebloggers, but there is definitely an active community of us. And they are a vocal community. And an energetic community. And that has made me question my place in the blogosphere. They are all about the act of becoming and of creating a midlife that is rich and nurturing and, yes, grabbing some of that marketing pie the mommybloggers have long enjoyed. I look at what they’re writing and doing and I think–been there, done that, have several t-shirts to show for it.
Are My Days of Wanting to Be Over?
So once again I’m asking myself: what do I want to be when I grow up? Or, more correctly, as I grow old? People used to ask me what the age boundaries for MidLifeBloggers was and I said, “you’re in midlife as long as you think you are.” Now I think maybe I’m not in midlife anymore. I think maybe I’ve moved into a different arena. But does that mean I have to give up MidLifeBloggers?
I just looked at our header and the tag line: Making the Most of Midlife Together. What if I just stuck a couple more words in there: Making the Most of Midlife and Beyond Together. Would that work? If I really portray my authentic self on-line, if I tell the good and the bad, the lumps, bumps and burrows of growing old, will I just be seen as that old biddy that won’t stop hanging around? Can I gather a community of midlifers and beyond around me? Should I try? Or should I just go gracefully into the night?
That I’m even here, telling you this, is, I think, the answer. Or maybe not.
And thus begins a dialogue I’m having with you and you and anyone else who has an opinion. I’ll be writing more about this–as it occurs to me.