OK, I’m officially a senior now. I’m 65, am getting Social Security and Medicare. And, I’m a member of AARP.
I get AARP publications in the mail. In just about every one, there is an article that mentions that it is important that seniors stay “socially engaged.” What does that mean, exactly?
I am an introvert. Looking back on my life, I’ve always been an introvert. I have always needed time alone to recharge, and rather enjoyed passing the time with my own thoughts, listening to music, and reading. Unfortunately, when I was growing up, introversion was equated with having one foot in the door of the local mental hospital. I even remember my high school English teacher saying, in reference to an introverted character in a story, that introverts were more prone to mental illness.
This line of thought caused my poor parents to worry and fuss at me about not having any friends. I did have some friends at school, but guess what? They were introverts, too! And, they rarely went out, had overprotective parents (like mine) who would not let them go out with people they did not know. Yes, my folks fussed at me for not being outgoing, but would not let me go places with others too much. Paradoxical, no? But that’s another story.
So, it was a struggle to demonstrate to them that I actually had friends, with my limited amount of freedom, and also to acquire enough social skills to fake being extroverted enough to have a couple of friends to hang out with in high school and college.
Anyway, now that I’m a Senior Citizen, been married, had kids, several jobs, the whole shebang, I’m ready to settle in and relax, and live my life the way I want to. I no longer feel the need to prove to my parents, or to anyone else (least of all AARP), that I’m “popular”. Heck being in the same house with my hubby 24/7 is plenty of social time for me.
The good news is, there is now a growing understanding of introverts, as demonstrated by the popularity of a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain, “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe, and other sources, blogs, all over the internet. Oh, I do wish these writings had been available to my folks when I was young… and I could have told that English teacher a thing or two, as well.
So, when is AARP going to get the word? It appears they are judging us seniors by the old, extroverted standard. Hey guys, it’s going to have to be OK to be introverted as a Senior, and there will need to be ways for introverted seniors to be engaged in the world. Could having a blog help? How about social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.? How about going out once in a while to a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop and just being around others? Take a class? I plan to take a photography class, and take up guitar again. Ah, plans…
Meanwhile, I’ll listen to podcasts and music that interest me, crochet for myself, family, and charity, read, watch TV and Netflix, and go out with hubby. Life is good.