Once you reach a certain age, many people tend to see, not the real you, but some sort of stereotype. They assume that a person of your age is no longer physically able to drive a car, walk to the store, or have fun in the gym. Nor do they think you’re mentally capable of fixing your own dinner, paying your own bills, or planning your own activities. Where do they get off jumping to such conclusions?
Yes, it’s terribly important to stop driving if your vision, muscle control, or memory of routes is impaired. And there may come a time when it’s best to have someone else take care of your meal planning, financial matters, or whatever. It’s very important to make the right decision, but that decision should be yours to make if you’re capable. And if you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet that you’re capable.
Take a good look at what things you’re starting to have difficulty with, and what things you want to stay in control of. If there’s a task or decision you’d like to get rid of, ask somebody you trust to do it. But don’t let others simply take over things in your life on their own. Resist those attempts and explain why you’re not ready to stop being in charge.
Hopefully, family members who offer to take on some of your responsibilities are doing so out of love, not the desire to dominate. By the same token, if you decline their offer, be sure to do it with an air of gratitude, not hostility. But not letting others define you isn’t just a matter of staying in control of the routine things you do every day. Your life is bigger than that. Think about what you really want to do, who you really want to be.
This might be the ideal time to learn a new language, study a new science, visit a new country, or read a new book. What better opportunity to try some of the things you always wanted to do?
At age 83, I no longer drive. Being color blind, I’ve never picked out my own clothes. You’d never want to eat anything I cook. But some things are still in my own domain. No one else decides the contents of my bookshelves, computer files, or desk drawers. We all need a little space of our own.
You’ve heard the old saying that “today is the beginning of the rest of your life.” Let’s focus on the word “beginning,” not “rest.” There will be plenty of time later to rest. Today let’s think about beginning something — reading an interesting book, checking out a new hobby, joining a new civic or social group. Taking charge of your life should go beyond not letting others define who you are. Maybe it’s also vital not to define yourself too rigidly. Enjoy the redefining process!
To make sure your future’s the best it can be
There’s a very important thing you can do:
Take advantage of all of the chances you see
to try something really exciting and new.