A few months ago, I was invited to attend a four day event in Nashville, Tennessee. The invitation came from a woman whom I had met on the chat-only social media application Clubhouse.
If you don’t know about Clubhouse, fix that — here’s the scoop.
At first, I hesitated. When I looked at how it was billed, as an “Ultimate Curators’ Workshop,” I thought, “Hmmmm, probably not for me.” I don’t view myself as a straight-up content creator. My mission, to normalize aging for women, feels more overarching, more complicated than that. For whatever reason, I was stuck in my thinking.
In reality, how do I move the dial on our preconceptions on what it means to be an older woman in today’s world? How can I alter the paradigm of ageism without creating and delivering content to undo the messages we’ve been delivered since childhood?
“Unlike racism and sexism, ageism is not directed towards a particular other-group but rather towards our future selves.”
Ageism is a unique form of prejudice and discrimination. Unlike racism and sexism, ageism is not directed towards a particular other-group but rather towards our future selves. A fear of deterioration and death pushes us to differentiate ourselves from the notion or label of being “old”.
We embrace strategies such as adopting younger age identities. Age identity includes the corresponding sensation of feeling “young” or “old,” which does not necessarily coincide with our chronological age. In addition, we look to successful and active aging as a way to separate ourselves from the misconceptions we’ve all been brought up on.
Misconceptions such as OLD PEOPLE:
- can’t learn anything new.
- are infirm.
- don’t pump iron.
- don’t enjoy sex.
- are dependent.
Ageism is a negative stereotype and like any stereotype it begs to be proven wrong. So how do we unlearn the stories we’ve been told about aging?
That’s my mission. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me how this Nashville event could fit into that vision.
Taking A Chance:
I decided to attend anyway. And in full transparency, my decision had nothing to do with curating content. I am already doing that and have an amazing roster of industry thought leaders that share exceptional, relevant information with our Community of women in midlife and beyond. My decision was based on something else completely.
My choice to attend stemmed from my need and desire to continue to adopt younger age identities. I knew I would be one of the older women in attendance. The reality is I believed I’d be the oldest. Turns out I came in second by just a few months.
“Individuals with solid social connections consume less healthcare.”
The opportunity to share space and time with women of “other” generations — we currently have six different generations alive today — made me giddy. In my personal life I do my level-best to spend time and learn from those both older and younger. How else would I keep up with music and fashion trends?
Okay, my motivation isn’t solely based on a desire to stay culturally relevant and hip to current trends (yes I’m aware it’s no longer hip to say “hip”). Studies show that we stand to benefit greatly from intergenerational friendships. Social connections and friendships have a positive impact on our psychological well-being and our physical health. Individuals with solid social connections consume less healthcare. Imagine the benefit to society of that!
“That tiny moment of bravery — getting on the plane — paid back in spades.”
In any case, I attended the Nashville weekend, hesitantly given the current condition of my back (three compression fractures from a skydiving accident five weeks ago). I turned on a rickety, self-defeating track in my head about being feeble, infirm, a burden (see the above list of BS.). I let myself become anxious and apprehensive. However, I got on the plane anyway. Here’s the rub: The long weekend proved to be one of the most transforming events of my life.
That tiny moment of bravery — getting on the plane — paid back in spades. Think winning the lottery. This group of 11 powerful women, all of whom I met in Clubhouse, loved on me, taught me, lifted me up, enabled me to tear down some personal demons, collaborated with me professionally, and, most importantly, befriended me.
We were a wide-range in age (28 to 57). We were from all over the US (Florida to Washington State and in between). Our religious beliefs diverged. How could a meeting of the minds occur? How could we build bonds of friendship? Through curiosity, respect and a willingness to be led.
Each and every woman present is a leader in her own right. Each and every woman present is a whole being replete with strengths, weaknesses, fears, and dreams. We came together willing to throw away the “I already know that.” worn out old record and we successfully replaced it with a swath of possibilities. And, more importantly, the support to execute.
I am also thrilled to report several of the powerhouse women will be joining the roster of Kuel Category Experts over the next couple of months.
Here’s to my TRIBE. If you are not following them; please do.
Featured Above From Left to Right:
Front Row: Toni Semanskee, (crush_your_engagement); RuthAnn Bowen (wixdesignher), Nina Obier, Tollisha Joseph (the_official_glue), Monica Van Landingham (viermedianash), Jack Perez (kuellife), Monica Allen (stitchedforsuccess)
Not Pictured (cause she was TAKING the picture): Haley Foster (iamhaleyfoster)