As we get older, we usually start restricting our activities. What is so interesting about this reaction to getting older is that it is voluntary. We may look different on the outside, but deep within we know we are still just us. Even so, we start to eliminate certain goals and activities. Unfortunately, as we limit our activities we lose our vitality and sense of self.
Is it some fear of injury or embarrassment? Is it illness? Is it how the world treats us?
For sure, we are made to feel different as we age. Maybe it is the signs everywhere reminding us we are aging that slow us down. Senior citizen signs at the movie theater and other places where we can buy a ticket for almost anything. Or is it receiving social security benefits and how it makes us feel that we need government assistance? Is it getting mail from action groups like AARP? The signs go on and on. I know the intention behind many of these signs and programs is to be helpful and, in fact, special offers do help, but make no mistake, there is an insidious effect from reading all of these signs. The day itself begins to feel of less value since we are led to believe that we are unable to live the full adventure of a life. We start to feel like we need help or are not as capable of handling the day on our own terms as we once did.
There are good reasons behind many programs and discounts for senior citizens. But often the reason they exist is only for marketing purposes. Some demographic study on the audiences to attract led movies to be made, TV shows to be produced, and so on. But I don’t take issue with their purpose. The danger is when we identify with these versions of ourselves as merely an age group. The boxes we start to step into, and believe in increasingly, limit us as each year goes by. We come to believe that ways other people define us describe the full range of our abilities, instead of testing our own limits and defining ourselves. Regardless of any good intention behind special “senior” programs, there are unintended consequences. The feeling of being less is one of those consequences.
This can slowly deplete our self-esteem if we let it. That many people after a certain age lose their voices or develop a belief that their unfolding stories and journeys are of less importance than they once were is a real concern. With each passing year, many people begin to self-regulate what they are planning to do the next day, and it is less than the day before.