Having recently moved to the country, settled, and then had to move again to a different location, I was beginning to feel like my world had changed so much that I didn’t know who I was anymore. In order to make new friends I’ve joined classes and become part of online communities.
I started with Zumba at the over-50s leisure and learning centre in Terrigal. I have to say I was very uncertain as to whether I wanted to join with older retirees because I just didn’t feel ready for that having worked all my life and still being of working age. The Zumba is great, but I can’t say I’ve made any real contacts. The people are all friendly enough, but they all seem to know each other from a way back. I persevere and its wonderful that there are so many ‘oldies’ wanting a good workout that can be done at their own pace without putting any pressure on. I have also joined Central Coast creative writers group as writing is something that has been a passion for years.
Through Nabo (a neighbourhood website aimed at connecting people in local communities) and Starts at 60, I go to a monthly coffee morning at San Churro in Erina Fair and am meeting some lovely people there. I also joined a social meet-up group that go out regularly for dinner and drinks, so I am really making the effort to put myself out there. You have to!
Though I have met numerous lovely people I still feel lost and I am now realising that so many of us over-60s feel the same. If you have recently retired or, like me, had to give up work and/ or move to an area where you know nobody, it’s really difficult. It’s also not something spoken about openly. You give up your friends, sometimes you are far from family, you may suddenly be on your own through divorce or loss, so where do you fit in.
Talking to ladies (and men) at these social meet-ups I have realised there are lots of us who feel lonely and at a loss as to how we can fill our days. As you age, if you are still in a familiar place/hometown and surrounded by people you have known for years it is definitely easier. If you are new and trying to break into these circles it is very difficult no matter how welcoming people can be. You lose your confidence to go out, especially if you are single, through fear of feeling like an outsider or a spare part.
I have recently had to give up work through relocation. After 46 years of heading off to a workplace mixing with people daily (and I earning an income), I feel at a loss. My last job was as a part-time consultant, advising local businesses on how they could get grants to help improve their business. I was also talking with them about how they could get involved with the various festivals I helped organise and run to bring tourism and therefore prospective sales into the town. I was continually talking to folk as part of my life, running food festivals, music festivals, vintage car festivals. I have worked since I was 16 years old with barely any breaks; even when I had my children I still worked part-time, so I am used to my own income and independence. I hate relying on using part of my hubby’s income for my own use. I’m in between work and retirement age, my pension won’t arrive for several years yet. There are many facilities and clubs and days out and such, but what if you can’t afford it?
I’m lucky to still have my hubby and that he is still working so am more fortunate than a lot of ladies I meet, however, who am I now? Everyday I ask myself what is my role in life, how can I still feel useful and part of my community. I am seeking work as I feel I have so much more to give and I crave conversation and company, but in the meantime I am finding I am not alone and it’s thanks to groups like the ones mentioned.
It’s sad that most employers are wanting to take on the youngsters because they are cheaper, but what price experience and maturity? I would happily work in a coffee shop or in retail part-time during the week. I wish there were more employers willing to take on people like myself and others, who are not quite done yet!