Self-Discovery 2.0

I’ve thought for a few years now that I’m having a personal renaissance akin to those days in my early 20s when I came into full bloom as an adult and established myself in the life of my choosing. Because I saw myself in context, felt my power and took steps toward my goals. Let’s call that phase self-discovery, or Self-Discovery 1.0. In the intervening 40 years, I didn’t think much about self-discovery. But if you had asked me, I would have said that self-discovery was the realm of youth, part of growing up and becoming. Now, in my 60s, I see it differently.

I think we go through a second phase of self-discovery as we transcend the midlife changes of body and mind. In our maturity, we experience the wisdom and resilience of our longer perspective. As a result, we marshal ourselves toward revised goals. I’m calling that Self-Discovery 2.0. And I’ve seen it play out recently in two films about women who re-invent themselves in their 60s: “Nomadland” and “The Artist’s Wife”.

Billie Best writes about self-discovery.

In both of these films, the story centers on an older woman who is at the end of the life she’s known and at the beginning of something else. One of them is economically challenged, living in her van. The other is super rich, living the high life. But regardless of their economic status, like millions of other women, me included, when their relationship with their husband disintegrates — one dies, one is disappearing — it’s a catastrophe. They are left with a big open space in their lives. Yes, they experience a period of grief, regret and self-pity. They get a lot of advice from family and friends and experiment with their options. And then their survival instinct surges.

In that chasm between the identity they’ve lost, and the woman they will become, they seek adventure, explore their options, and take chances on a new life. In doing so they witness themselves, develop their personal interests, establish new intentions, and pursue previously unimagined possibilities. It’s in that tapestry of new experiences that they re-discover themselves as individuals. Self-Discovery 2.0.

I’ve often complained about the absence of women my age in popular storytelling. So it’s gratifying to see these films feature strong women with real faces taking the spotlight. Storytelling helps us see ourselves. These stories illuminate a pattern we don’t often hear about — the late life blossoming that occurs in the space opened by loss. From creative destruction comes reinvention. You re-discover who you are and change your mind about what you want.

I wouldn’t feel so clear on this if I hadn’t experienced it myself in the years between my husband’s death in 2009 and starting this blog in 2019. And I don’t think I’m unique. When mature women see themselves at the beginning of an exciting new phase in their lives, ageism sheds like last year’s skin. Our age becomes our advantage. We have plans. We’re going somewhere. And we’re glad to be who we are — whole women, reborn into the new life of our choosing. That’s the renaissance I feel in myself right now. Keen with curiosity. Leaning into the unknown. Self-Discovery 2.0. 

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8 thoughts on “Self-Discovery 2.0

  1. Billie–I enjoyed being on the Zoom panel with you for Senior Planet, as a fellow author. It was a great pleasure to read this thoughtful blog today. Very insightful and provocative. There are no accidents, I believe. Today right before I opened your email and read this, I finished a chapter entitled ‘Creative Destruction’ for my new book (co-authored with Steve Chandler). I share this short quote from it with you and your readers as it relates to creative destruction as seniors. “For our personal lives, it may be that “destruction” is too strong a word. But the assessment and openness to creating a new way of being—even in just a few ways—can lead to greater possibilities for living and continuing growth throughout your remaining life.” ~Will

  2. SHIVA has pre-Vedic tribal roots,[14][15] and the figure of Shiva as we know him today is an amalgamation of various older non-Vedic and Vedic deities, including the Rigvedic storm god Rudra who may also have non-Vedic origins,[16] into a single major deity.[17][18][19][20]

    Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu.[1][21] In the Shaivite tradition, Shiva is the Supreme Lord who creates, protects and transforms the universe.[9][10][11] In the Shakta tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva.[22][23] He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.[12]

    Shiva is the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe.[24][25][9] There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash[1] as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.[26][27][28]

    The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of lingam.[2] Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.[29][18]

  3. Hi, Billie! I LOVE this post. It makes me so excited about my new book. We are giving the same inspiring and hopeful message. I also love the quote about mature women and ageism. May I share that quote? Thanks and keep doing what you are doing!

  4. Oh my oh my
    Yes indeed! Exactly what I needed today – thank you Billie ??
    Can’t wait to watch those films – I have heard lots about both. For some of us – including myself in this category- self discovery has been an in going process since my teens, never stopped in consciousness or effort. It has been exhilarating , depressing, lately song, challenging, freeing and so much more. I will be 51 years old on May 8 and I am the best I’ve ever been/felt/lived. Here’s to ageing . I love it.

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