Aging and Agism #sol22

Aging and Agism #sol22

March 29, 2022

I don’t know if this is true for anyone else, but the last few years, I’ve been thinking about aging… more than I wish to. And recently, I’ve been considering retiring. These thoughts are shocking to me. I know that perhaps they shouldn’t be, after all I am a certain age.

This week I voiced those thoughts to my closer friends. They protested… well most of them did. One of them told me I should retire and volunteer at a nice Catholic school without the resources to have a literacy specialist. Truth is, I can’t imagine retirement. I can’t really imagine, no book searches, no spelling and writing coaching, no daily talks with teachers.

My girlfriend told me that I should listen to this Glennon Doyle podcast on Aging. I did start listen yesterday on my way home from school. Full confession, I haven’t listen to the entire podcast yet, but the first fifteen minutes were totally enlightening. First the part that wasn’t, aging beats the alternative. Glennon Doyle, said with a laugh, that she was totally pro-aging. I suppose I agree with her. Maybe not in the way she meant it.

If I wasn’t right at the place I am, I wouldn’t be strong enough to withstand criticism. I wouldn’t have the strong sense of self that comes with years of success with students, deep meaningful collaboration with peers, and a true sense of my worth. If I wasn’t this age today, I wouldn’t have lived all those teaching moments with teachers and their students. Moments that I draw on when someone, including me needs encouragement.

Glennon’s guest on the podcast gave the most convincing argument against worry about aging and considering yourself to have diminishing capacity, it’s self-fulfilling. The more we consider ourselves diminished by age, the more we dwell on it, the more we will be. Ashton Applewhite, @thischairrocks, asserts that we are in charge of how age affects us. I wish I hadn’t been in the car. I wanted to write down a quote, You are never too old and it is never too late. (Marsha Muth) (try looking up you are never too old on the internet, the inspirational quotes are endless). This reminds me of my one little word and also of the blog I wrote a few days ago about what I want to learn. I’m not ready yet.

I’ve been tired and discouraged before. I’ve been underappreciated and misunderstood before. The only difference was, walking away permanently wasn’t an option. Today it is. I could retire and volunteer. I could read books and do more housework. I could. But then, I wouldn’t be doing what that expert, Ashton Applewhite says is the number one predictor of my aging well, a social network. All of those children and teachers, they are the secret sauce that’s keeping me from aging… faster.

So I’m not too old. I’m aging, true. I’ve had a longer career than most of my colleagues have been alive. In that career, I’ve learned alot, some of it through mistakes. The most important part of me is I’m still learning. So you’ll see me in that classroom tomorrow. I’ll be leaning over a child whose going to be amaze at what he can do today.

15 thoughts on “Aging and Agism #sol22

  1. I love the reflections in this post, Susan, and I really love the reminder about social networks. I admire you for working when you could retire given all the challenges of the last couple of years, and those colleagues and students are incredibly lucky to have you with you wisdom and experience and especially your joy!

  2. I love this honest, reflective post. I can tell you have so much left to give and are not yet ready to walk away. I would bet your teachers don’t want you to walk away either. You sound truly inspirational as a literacy coach and I know they learn a lot from you…I certainly would!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is exactly where my mind has been recently, and it’s been a really hard conversation with myself. I will listen to this podcast and keep thinking about how to age well. I wish I could sit and have coffee with you and figure this out together.

  4. I think this post will speak to a lot of educators in our writing circle, myself included. I’m in my third iteration in the education biz (most likely my last), and older than most of the faculty on my campus. But I don’t feel old–like you, I think it’s the children that keep me young, on my toes, especially as a librarian who needs to keep up with their reading interests.

  5. This is a tough decision to go through. I went through it the past few years and decided to do a quasi-retirement. I has worked for me, since I do still get my social network and my time with kids. I just have less homework. I feel like it was a bit of a compromise with the two sides of me.

  6. I shared that same podcast episode with my mom this weekend. I also feel young at 59 and cannot imagine retiring (which is good, because I can’t afford to). It does give you pause though when there is so much hype to worry about aging.

  7. Love this post so much! I love the line where you say you wouldn’t have the wisdom and experience you have without bring the age you are. I’ve felt that more this year than any other, with 29 years under my belt and 51 years young…I’ve come to appreciate where I am because of where I’ve been. I’m
    With you, so much more to live, learn and offer. Special slice! Thanks for sharing!

  8. This is so encouraging, Susan! And I related do much to these lines: “ I’ve been tired and discouraged before. I’ve been underappreciated and misunderstood before.”

    Realizing that the decision is permanent gives me pause; especially when teaching is still energizing!

  9. Thanks for thinking aloud about this topic at once profound and personal. My two cents: You’re a realist and an optimist and your social networks have social networks. Keep leaning in, leaning over, and seeing what happens. I bet good things usually will.

  10. The truth is, the older you get, the more relative age becomes. You can look back and reflect on all that you’ve done and all the people and students you’ve helped and how much longer you keep teaching is absolutely and entirely up to you and how you feel about it!

  11. You are a gem. My favorite line, “The most important part of me is I’m still learning. “ I know this about you from reading your writing. I also knew that the social networking piece is where you shine. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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