It seems to me that every day I learn something – predominantly through my relations with others – personal and professional. How wonderful to be still learning in my 60s – and why wouldn’t I?
As each year passes I increasingly value the range and diversity of my relationships with women and feel hugely grateful for that. I have noticed my women friends become funnier, more independent, braver, stronger as they age – perhaps for many of us that’s to do with a fuck-it attitude. There’s less time left than we’ve had so now is the time. Conversely many older men seem to become more stuck, less adventurous, more limited in their thinking, more emotionally needy.
Having younger women friends is something I realise is so important to me. I have always liked the saying – people come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. I often envy people who are still close to old school friends of 50+ years. The best old friends remain and there is an easy shorthand that exists and shared history that is comfortable. What is so glorious about new, deeper friendships is a dynamism and freshness that is alive, provocative and exciting, where I am always learning! This week I have had three conversations with women in their 20s and 30s who are trusting me with their personal stories. Whilst on the face of it the ‘power’ rests with me, in truth the joy of each conversation for me is the quality of equality and generosity, the capacity for listening and reflection, the genuine desire to have an honest and open relationship. AND I learn something from each of them – how brilliant is that?
I realise I have important, special friendships with women (beyond my family) across every decade 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s – these women feed and nurture me, they make me laugh, challenge my thinking, listen to my pains and joys without judgement, eat cake and drink wine with me.
I am wary of implying this is gender specific; certainly not all women are capable of engaging this way. There are women whose ego dominates and who are trapped in a constructed patriarchal reality that stifles any emotional intelligence. Equally there are good men with the capacity for listening and change. The joy of female friendship is in the (unspoken) shared female experience down generations – so, ensure you keep talking (and importantly listening). Life will only get better and you’ll learn so much about yourself too.
Written by Rosie Russell – Arts Manager, Lecturer, Life Coach, Mother, Grandmother and Good Egg.
Keep an ear on the Lost Lady Society Podcasts for more on this topic, coming soon.