THINGS OLD PEOPLE SAY…….Goodbye, Relevance

It seems I have spent my life pursuing relevance. My dad worked military defense contracts, so I moved around a lot as a kid.  Examining the things that made me who I am today, moving around definitely had an impact. Every move meant new schools, neighborhoods, and new ways of life. Every new school meant new jargon, new playground rules and games, new hair and clothing styles. New everything, really. I was always trying to fit in. I wanted to be significant, not just the new kid with no friends who was starting from scratch every year or two in a new town.  For example, I moved to one school and on the second day, we lined up for “morning exercises”. I was thinking Jack LaLanne (how old am I? Think Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Beach Body, Peloton) as we lined up to go outside. Where we continued to stay lined up. We said the pledge of allegiance, maybe a prayer (Catholic school girl here) and we heard announcements. I kept waiting for the jumping jacks and felt pretty stupid when they didn’t happen. Another time, I had just recently had my hair cut in the Farrah style. For the relevant, she was a huge icon and had a layered, flippy style that was replicated by many. I was one of the last girls at my previous school to get this style. Lucky for me, I was the first girl at the new school. Instant status. Moving around for me meant an endless cycle of feeling awkward, struggling to find my place, settling in and moving again.

I continued this desire to fit in or be relevant in my 20’s. I was lucky, I had started and graduated the same high school (something none of my four siblings had been able to do). I stayed and went to college and while I had dreams of escaping – those dreams are going to have to wait until retirement. In my 20s I was very relevant and quite interesting and cool. Which, you know, is life in your 20’s. All you can think about is you and for many of us, this was the best we will ever be physically. As I grew up and met the world, I thought everything I did was as interesting to everyone else as it was to me. Incidentally, I wasted my youth. If I had known what a gift youth was, I would have walked around with my arrogance held high and sporting a bikini everywhere I went, because I don’t have the body to parade like that anymore. 

My early 30s were interesting as I was still single and clubbing while my friends were having babies. I was still thinking I was cool but that my friends were leading the relevance race. In my late 30s I joined my parenting friends getting married, having a few kids and quitting work to raise them.  While I was busy hosting play dates, Pampered Chef parties, and scrapbooking in my spare time, I really thought I was relevant. I was right in the thick of it and felt like this is what my life was meant to be. 

In my 40s when I lost my relevance to my husband, I rejoined the work force. What a shock. So many changes. Google notes saved your work automatically (when I last used a word document program, if you didn’t save every so often, you ran the huge and very real risk that your document would disappear and you would have to start over), flash drives were all the rage, and you no longer had to leave two spaces after a period in a document.  I realized how out of touch and irrelevant I had become. My divorce was unpleasant and as I took steps to regain my independence and start a new life, I again worried about relevance. I certainly didn’t feel relevant. And, as one of the last of my friends to get married, I was now among the first to get divorced. I wasn’t very relevant at this point except to other divorced friends. And, then time marched on. I became the spokeswoman for divorce and living after it to some my friends. To fill my spare time, I branched out, started new things. Writing a blog, moving up at work, doing new things. My still married, stay at home friends expressed their desire to be in my shoes. After all, I was making it look like the time of my life. In many ways, it has been.

For most of my life I have been craving and endlessly searching for relevance. Recently, I have decided I don’t care if I am relevant or caught up anymore. I no longer care if I recognize the couples breaking up or having babies in People magazine. I don’t care if I have read the latest bestseller, seen the latest Oscar winner, or tried the latest restaurant in town. It was fun while it lasted, but the pursuit has been too much work. While this doesn’t mean I won’t do these things, my decisions will no longer be driven by my need to be relevant. Who decides who and what is relevant anyway? Definitely not anything written by a dinosaur.

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