I now realize how easy it is to be self involved when you’re young. You’re on a mission (a whole bunch of missions), and you barely have time to think of anyone else. Get into a good school. Get good grades. Land a great job. Meet the right person. Buy a nice house. Start a nice family. Make more money. Buy more things.
Along the way, you come together with worlds of different people, many of whom help you maneuver from point A to point B. You love some, loathe others, and you keep forging ahead, even if you pick up scrapes, bruises and scars along the way.
It’s quite a process, and if you’ve been lucky enough to make it through five or six decades with most of your faculties still intact, you wake up one day and are ready to “smell the roses.” That doesn’t mean you’re going to retire and start eating early bird dinners. But suddenly it feels right to scale back, pare down, and concentrate on the things that your accumulated wisdom has taught you to value the most. Life is jammed packed with enough unavoidable complications; it’s time to get rid of those over which you do have control! Some of us start shedding ourselves of material stuff we’ve been gathering all along the way: Ticket stubs to a Bette Midler New Year’s Eve performance in the 70s; a dress we wore on the first date with our husband; a George Foreman Grill that last saw a steak in 1997.
It feels utterly refreshing and liberating to have fewer possessions, but you cherish the ones you kept, through and through!
Others of us buy smaller cars and smaller homes. Who needs 6,000 square feet when you spend 90% of your time in a room that measures 14 by 16?! (I read that former New York mayor, 73-year-old Michael Bloomberg, recently purchased his upteenth mansion. He doesn’t fall into this category!)
Then there’s the subject of the people in your life. Their more the merrier just doesn’t ring true anymore. You love being with upbeat friends and relatives who don’t complain about every little thing, but who appreciate the little things in life. You adore the people who are genuinely happy for you, whether you land a new job or find a new dress, as well as those who share your pain as if it were their own.
You want to surround yourself with friends who listen to you and give you wise advice, “get” you, appreciate you, and cheer you on. Self involvement may be an acceptable state of youth. It simply doesn’t wear well any more, kind of like the dress you finally tossed out. You no longer have time–or patience– for people like that.
A recent FabOverFifty poll of 500 women revealed 66 percent of us severed ties with girlfriends during the last five years; 34 percent with a sibling; 23 percent with a significant other, and 9 percent with a child (now, that last one is really sad, as far as I’m concerned.)
And, not surprisingly, self-centeredness ranked first among the reasons for the rifts. Other reasons, in order of importance, included: