Thursday, November 13, 2014

Some of These Are Not The Same-Leaving Our Comfort Zone In Retirment

 Last week, I attended a small election night party (which ended up being a commiseration, unfortunately).  This small event was held at the home of one of my knitting/book club/luncheon friends, and her husband.  Aside from myself, there were two other folks, male and female, both unattached. Previously I attended my church dinner group, at the home of a couple who are friends. Attendees included a single man, another single woman, another married couple and a gay married couple. Equally importantly, the age of those in attendance ranged from late twenties and thirties all the way to "working on seventy".

While I did not think that either of these events were particularly remarkable, another friend noted that I seemed to have avoided the "Golden Girl" phenomena (single women socializing and living together), and that my social live was extremely diverse, especially when it came to age differentials. 

This was just one woman's perspective, and I don't believe in generalizations.  That said, I do think there are groups of retirees (and people in general) who try to surround them with people like them, especially when it comes to age, ethnicity,  and marital status. Married people want to socialize with married people, single with singles, retirees with retirees. While I understand the temptation, and the attraction of being in the comfort zone, for me, this one has never worked.

Recently, I've had the opportunity to read some new (and one older) books on retirement and retirement lifestyles. I intend a post soon on my thinking on those books.  However, one author suggests that the happiest retirees are those who search out younger friends as they lose older friends, as well as regularly reaching outside their comfort zone in terms of income, ethnicity and life style.

While I don't necessarily search that out, I've put myself in a position to have that happen (admittedly sometimes this is simply happenstance).  As many readers know, my lifelong learning has been through regular college classes instead of taking free or almost free senior courses.  In my college classes I'm often the eldest person in the room by far, and I like it that way. The challenge of learning with people of all ages is unique and I am constantly surprised what I can learn from a twenty year old college student.  College classes are often messy, noisy, and difficult-and that's great. To cite another example, searching for a church is always difficult in a new community. Because I choose to be involved in a church with many outreach and political activities, the nature of the church is that almost every activity is  extremely generational. I've discussed the feeding of the homeless women here, and the group that I work with range from a twenty something nurse to myself.  

While the above paragraph has mainly to do with age, the same thing is true in my life when it comes to marital status and socialization.  I expect this has much to do with the fact that much of my socialization is done around the things I am passionate about and the hobbies I enjoy. My social life tends to center around my church (which is extremely generational), my family, neighbors, and volunteer and recreational activities.  In all the cases, events, parties and dinners and the like tend to be a mix of heterosexual spouses, gay spouses and singles of all ages and persuasions.

This is certainly not to say that I don't do that "Golden Girl" thing on occasion. My Wednesday knitting and happy hour group consists entirely of retired boomers whose spouses and friends know they'll come home six hours later just a little tipsy.  For years in my previous church in Dallas, single women of a certain age went out to breakfast after the last service-it was a regular event.

I've just learned that for me, I feel better and more challenged when I am surrounded by all ages of people, from all backgrounds on a regular basis.  This means the house across the street where a bunch of college kids live, the empty nest working neighbors, and the twenty something couple with kids. It means the noisy college students (yes, one has even come to school in pj bottoms), a two year old on occasion at my church dinner group, and yes, the dinner belles, a once a month single woman's night out.

All and all, it works for me.


  1. Enjoyed this post-- it is how I strive to live,too.. though strive is hardly how it happens, it just seems, like you, I meet people of all ages,backgrounds and proclivities in the course of following my passions and interests.I enjoy hearing the viewpoints of those 20-somethings at my art class, I keep my finger on the pulse of the real estate world and finance through my friend who is 11 years younger and still working hard, We have a few gay couples in our community who are a whole hearted part of the social scene, one couple is opening up a bed and breakfast and I have offered to be their backup to BB sit when they need to get away. My husband hikes and bikes with our 79 year old neighbor!! ANd builds trails with the 55 year old retired teacher friend down the street. Sometimes I go to our library when it is story hour day so I can be around toddlers and little ones.. I like the energy (On occasion!!). I also enjoy my girl-time. A couple of gal pals and I meet for a Game Night once a month during the winter, and once a month for a CHICK FLICK night.These are my younger friends. Once every 6 weeks or so my neighborhood friends host a "WHINE AND WINE" group and that's mostly retired ladies from ages 50 to 70. Life is so full of experiences, stories, you say, when you follow that, your life will diverse and interesting! And that's how I like it, too!!

  2. Never really thought about who I surround myself with. I do know there are not many singles in my core group anymore (two have recently gotten married).

  3. I have a number of friends who are my age and demographic and lately I've found that they are ... boring. Like you, I think knowing a variety of people of different ages and perspectives leads to a much more interesting experience. One exception: when I play table tennis. I just cannot keep up with anyone under 50!

  4. I like spending time with people who have active minds. All ages. We're in Hawaii right now, and yesterday we drove to the other side of the Big Island for dinner and an overnight with one of our daughter's friends and the friend's new husband. We had a great time. My next-door-neighbor has three school-age kids and I like my time with both her and her kids. Plus my book group, church people and exercise people, and friends my age. So I have lots of incoming energy. I like it that way.

  5. I agree - it's much more fun and more interesting to have friends and acquaintances of all ages. As a former professor, I really like being around college-age kids, but I also like my daughter's 30s-something friends.
    I'm looking forward to your post on retirement lifestyles!

  6. My husband and I left Green Valley AZ (a 55+ community) to spend our winters in Tucson. I could not stand never seeing children or young people. We are very lucky to have young people in our life. I cannot imagine a where I never saw or talked to all ages.

    This is a beautiful post. It is a window into your life, Thank you.


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