One of our chief needs as creative beings is support, and seldom is this more true than when we are beginning a creative endeavor. Especially if we are new to practicing our creativity, it is paramount that we consciously build relationships that can serve as support for our projects and an outlet for our own generosity. Some of these relationships may be continuations of bonds we have formed in the workplace, some may be relationships we wish to deepen now that we are possessed of more time, and others may be brand new connections we make based on shared interests. Likely, we will want to cultivate a combination of the three, and as we pursue new interests that serve our needs during this time of our lives, it is important that we pursue relationships that also serve our needs.
Before retirement, many of us enjoyed the contact of colleagues and clients that automatically came with the job. We now need to make a special effort to find ourselves a peer group—an effort we may not have made in decades. It may take some time to reawaken our friend-making skills, but when we do, the relief is enormous.
“When I was working, I often resented my job,” says Carol, a retired trucking company dispatcher. “Not working, I found I missed the camaraderie. This was my dirty little secret until I joined an exercise class for beginners at the gym. Most of the people in the class were women my age, and I was surprised by how excited I was to see that. The teacher was a contemporary of ours too, and it was quickly evident that what got exercised were our spirits as well as our bodies. I began to form friendships with my workout buddies in class. At first, we just confided in each other about our struggles with the class, working to get into shape and keep up. We’d help each other out, grabbing a mat for another here or putting away another’s weights there. It soon progressed to having a quick coffee before or after class.”
“The class was such a simple thing, three times a week,” Carol says, “but it really bonded us. We talked about our problems—with our partners, our children, our health-- and we felt relief. We had a lot in common, but we also had different stories and we were interesting to each other. Now we get together for dinner at least once a month. We’re a tight group. Sadly, one of the women is going through a health challenge right now, but we’ve rallied around her. We take turns bringing healthy meals to her at home and we keep the faith together. I wouldn’t have thought the gym would bring me so much friendship, but I went there hoping for support and being willing to give it— and I was rewarded with more community than I’ve had in awhile. We all know we can count on each other. There’s really something to be said for women of a similar age helping each other out.”
As we support others, our self-worth increases. When we see how much our support matters to others, we find it more natural to ask for support for ourselves.