Vignettes in Aging – Belonging

Lines blur as we age, literally and metaphorically.

We belong in different places at different times in our lives. Where are we in our elder years? We’re still parents, but the kids are gone and have kids of their own and we don’t really parent anymore. We’re still teachers and secretaries and IT professionals, care-givers, nurses, doctors, but we’re retired and haven’t seen a paycheck in ages.

I’ll bet you just drifted past definitions of who you were – mother, worker, etc. – to where you are today. But, the fact is you don’t belong in any one definition. Each of us is different, and where we belong changes frequently. We know where we belong when we’re with family; we’re that which we are called:  spouse, parent, child. The same can be said for our role in community, with definers as varied as church member, card player, and volunteer. These are all who you are and where you belong, but they’re only part of the story.

The good news is, as seniors, we’ve arrived at the best possible place to belong! We’ve waited our entire lives to get here. We’ve done the hard work, and now it’s time to delight in all that we have created for ourselves. We’re not ready to close down; we’re ready to open ourselves further to the riches and abundance in our life.

I’m not talking cars, vacations, and lots of “stuff” (you know me!). I’m talking about having more time and clarity – without distractions – to focus on that which pleases us. Ultimately, where you need to belong is where you feel most comfortable.

To me, the most important descriptions of who I am (and by extension where I belong) reference non-tangible, emotional characteristics. I am defined by my compassion, my steadfastness, my loyalty, and my honesty. Sometimes I’m also controlling and overly sensitive. These also describe who I am and where I belong. I’m human.

COVID will never define us. It is not where we belong regardless of what has happened to us and our loved ones during this terrible time. I belong on the other side of this pandemic, and I work hard to make sure I get there.

Our sense of self is where we belong – completely. All those other roles or definitions only enhance our sense of self.

Where do you belong?