I was struck last week by a headline on an online post that said, “I know you!” It was encouraging people to post frequently on social media—through that company, of course—so others would feel like they know you. And I thought, “Oh, really?”
Who Knows You?
And then I got to thinking, “Well, who does know me?” Do you ever have the feeling, “She/he doesn’t really know me,” even if, ostensibly, it’s someone you’re quite close to? That’s not a good feeling. What would someone need to know about you in order for you to feel they do really know you? I asked a friend this question, and she said she thought they would have to know how she was likely to react to whatever was going on or was going to happen.
I don’t think it’s just that someone has known you for a long time, even if they know a lot of your history. It certainly isn’t the information that’s typically in a professional bio, such as where you went to school, the degrees you have, or your job history. It’s not even your current personal situation (e.g., single, married, children, hobbies, pets). And if you take all of these—history, bio, current personal situation—does that then add up to them knowing you? I don’t think so.
What Does It Take?
Consider someone you feel knows you very well. What do they know that others don’t? Elusive, isn’t it? What I’m trying to get at is: what does it take to feel known by another person? As with many questions, the answer probably is that it’s different for different people. What it takes for me to feel known by another may be very different than what it takes for you. And why does this matter?
I think as we get older and enter the prime of our lives—in our fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties—many of us go through significant changes. Women, especially, may feel freer, more who we really are and were always meant to be. We may feel that, for the first time, we no longer have to always put a bunch of other people first, before ourselves. We may finally be able to explore the question: “What do I really want for my life?” And this blossoming can be unnerving, even scary to those around us—particularly to a spouse or partner who has gotten very accustomed to how we’ve always been. They may be thinking, “Who IS this person?”
Is This It?
If you’re a woman who has spent most of your adult life focusing on a career—perhaps, at the same time, also taking care of a home and children—you may begin to have similar feelings. You may begin to realize that, even though you’ve been very good at your job and usually enjoyed it, it’s no longer providing the same level of satisfaction it once did and now you’re frequently asking yourself, “Is this IT? Is this all there is? What’s next?”
You also may increasingly feel that you’re not known for who you really are, and this can be sad and even scary. At these times it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. Many, many women are going through exactly the same thing.
So, don’t go through this alone. Reach out to the people who really know you—or, to those people you want to really know you—and begin conversations. You may find that others quietly are feeling the same way.
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another. We learn and grow together while furthering 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 launch the Mastermind for High Performance Women Over 50: What’s Next? in October. Are you a senior woman who would like to know more about this? 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 of experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was the 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!