When I was younger, joining groups and organizations was never a priority. I pretty much went my own way, forging new paths as I went. Being a loner had its benefits. I was never second guessed, and changing course was merely a question of making a decision one way or the other. Self approval was all that was required to proceed.
As I aged, however, I found the need to belong increased exponentially with my years. There was strength to be gained through association with others. Knowledge is contagious, as is spirit and enthusiasm. Wisdom, after all, is a collective attribute that not only encourages diversity, but also embraces sameness.
Seniors, by virtue of our declining physical abilities, tend to seek a communal sense of strength through group endeavors that expand our minds through social interaction and cerebral gymnastics. Old age (there’s no euphemism that can blunt its onset) is a bit of a double-edged sword. While we may lose much physically (I am living proof) we gain so much more intellectually. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way—as if I’ve had a choice.
At age 72, I now have a hiking partner; I never fish alone; I’m on the board of my homeowners association; I’m part of a writing group; and I recently became a co-rep for the North Carolina Writers Network-West. My point being that virtually everything I do now centers around belonging to something that involves interacting with others. And my life has become richer for it.
If you’re one of those people who has prided yourself in your rugged individualism, I urge you to begin thinking of resetting your sails. Join a hiking club, or a writers group, or perhaps a theatre ensemble. Go square dancing. Get involved in something. Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to.
I think you’ll find that there’s a lot to be said for belonging.