Not long ago I received a text message from a friend I was meeting for lunch that read “I think I’m here, but I’m not sure I’m in the right place.” I stopped what I was doing and just stared at the text. YES, I thought, I’ve felt that way often! Have you?
These feelings can start at a young age. Some of us may feel that we were born into the wrong family. There’s an old story about a swan egg that accidentally gets dropped into a pigeon nest. When the shells crack open and the babies emerge, all eyes are on this one strange-looking thing. What IS that? As in most stories with messages, all turns out well, but it’s a bit painful getting there.
Have You Felt Out Of Place?
We may have felt out of place when we started school. How can these other kids read so well? Or why can’t these kids read, for goodness’ sake? Why am I in this class? When lunchtime came, everyone seemed to know everyone else, except me. On the playground, everyone got chosen for the team, except me. I think I’m here, but I’m not sure I’m in the right place because if I were, I wouldn’t be feeling so alone.
There may have been other times in our lives when we had very similar feelings: who ARE these people living in the dorm with me? What kind of place IS this where I’ve just started working? Am I in the right place? Surely not!
For many of us, the past several years have felt that way. When we were all holed up in our homes, condos, and apartments, not seeing a single other human being except those we live with (if we have any of those), weren’t there times when you felt, “Where am I anyway? Am I in the right place?” And even now that at least the early stages of the pandemic seem to have passed, the current state of the world and the US is such that many mornings when I check the news, I have a feeling of not being sure where I am period, let alone whether or not I’m in the right place.
My Uncomfortable Moments
On a more mundane level, not long ago I attended a women’s conference. It was a very large conference, and this is not the kind of setting where typically I am comfortable. Sure enough, when I got there, it seemed as if everyone knew everyone else… except me. And, on top of that, I felt as if I were at least ten or twenty years older than most of the women there.
Was either of those perceptions based on fact? No, not at all, but that feeling of walking into the cafeteria on the first day of first grade lasts a long time. I know from the women I coach and interview on my podcast that the feeling of being the oldest person in the room is very common. I often hear women say something like, “I felt like the den mother.” If everyone is younger than me, I must not be in the right place!
As We Get Older…
Have you even begun feeling that way within yourself? I hear women say, “When I look in the mirror, I’m shocked by what I see! I look like an old woman! Who IS that? How did this happen?” All these feelings become exacerbated as we get older because we live in a society that keeps telling us there’s something wrong with us. We aren’t in the right place. We should be off somewhere hidden so no one has to look at or deal with us.
Even though many of us have these feelings, they are not valid. They are based on an old and incorrect model of what it means to be an older woman and on other people’s own fears of getting older and becoming less and less desirable and visible. All of this simply does not apply to us.
So, let’s say loudly and strongly, “I’m here, and I AM in the right place!” because you ARE in the right place for you at this time in your life. You are exactly who you were meant to be; in fact, every day you are becoming more and more of the woman you always were meant to be. Every day you gain more experience, skills, and wisdom, and are more willing to step out and be seen and heard. And if you don’t feel that yet, just keep saying to yourself, “I’m here and I AM in the right place! I’m me, and I am enough just the way I am.”
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another, learn and grow together, and further the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.
We will be beginning another Prime Spark Women’s Story Circle in January. If you’re interested in knowing more about that, please send an email to [email protected]
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years’ experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company. Sara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!