My New Best Job: Role Model!


Giverny (23) and Me

I assume that many of us grown-up Grayellas ask ourselves the question: What to do with all that you are and all that you know? Hide it, play it down, toss it aside as an insignificant byproduct of life with an expiration date? I say: No Way. We need rewards. Now that you've been on this frightening, horrible, magical, fascinating, beautiful planet for quite some time you have accumulated so much knowledge, experience and clever know-how that you burst at the seams. You want to give and share, enlighten and enrich. You could easily advice the rest of the young and silly world with much needed stuff. You would almost do it for free. Great! But does anybody give a hoot about you, the WOMAN WHO KNOWS

Does anybody listen? As a matter of fact - yes, some really do. And here come the beautiful news: Young women love older women! They sometimes look up to (some of) us, full of hope, eager to learn and to listen - and I for one am delighted, flattered and a bit proud about becoming what I secretly hoped to become one fine day: A Role Model.

So, Magic still happens here and there. Three different 
young women between 19 and 26 years old in only one week have declared me a Role Model!  And I admit that these honors make me happier than I thought.
What did I do, you may ask? Nothing special, just being myself
maybe being a bit on a roll with my relentless message of confidence, guts and empowerment I share a little too generously for some people's taste.

Two Beauties: Mareela (26) left - and Sidney (19)

I'm a storyteller. I like to talk to people, to all people, especially to 
young women. They bring out the feminist cheerleader in me when I see their fresh faces and sparkly eyes, but also their worries and insecurities. "Who will I become in this exceedingly exhausting and demanding world? Will I thrive and survive?" they wonder. There's quite a bit of internal "homelessness" going on - it's not only for the poor and downtrodden.

I don't know the whole answer, I don't know whether they actually 
have a harder time than us Boomers had, but I suspect they do.
I have always had a special relationship to teenagers - I'm sure it's because that hiding under the lived-in features and silvery mane I'm still one big insubordinate teenie myself. This defiant adolescent here got stuck somewhere between 14 and 19. I guess I never lost touch with that longing to set the world on fire and become the heroine of my very own fate. I also never totally lost touch with certain insecurities and sense of wonder about life and fate - and the forever unanswered questions I still grapple with.

At 19 (in Germany) A young Reporter

Of course, there are also hard fronts between the generations - maybe need to be. We are the keepers of our respective fenced gates where other generations are denied entrance. We want to hold on to our own hard fought for territory where we call the shots, and keep disturbances and unworthy creatures outside. The steely crowns of knowledge and experience are sometimes firmly attached to our gray hair, we want to be heard, we want the power. We deserve it, too.

Yet, I became very soft and admiring towards young women. They 
helped me, too, finding parts of me again, young parts that had remained unresolved, locked somewhere in a box labeled "later". 
I was once in their shoes (ALL of the sometimes ghastly collection), too and it isn't really that long a time ago, at least it doesn't feel that way.

How was I as a young woman? A loner, all by myself. Me against 
the world. Nobody ever told me that I could do or be anything I wanted. And still, that's what I deep down believed in. It was the 60s, that lucky and wild period in history where upheaval and rebellion was as natural (for me at least) as breathing and wearing miniskirts. +++
I had no female role models, not living ones anyway. My Mom was a stylish beauty, super-charming and warm-hearted - but a slave to household and husband. Unlike her I was looking for pioneers and a new territory, I wanted to kick the world's ass and not be known for being very feminine and pliant! 
I loved Rock n Roll, movies and art. 100% foreign - meaning American, English and French, nothing native (German) really. So, where to turn to for inspiration when you're not even crazy about anything in your homeland? Not to women or individuals but to a spirit, a feeling, a generation! Zeitgeist has made me into the woman I am, too.
Me at 68

I've noticed that when I talk to young women (actually, young men, too) about my past that it's usually the moment when I get all glittery eyes and speak with infectious and very passionate authority.
I don't want to rave about the good ol' times of the sixties when everything seemed possible and we were the luckiest generation that ever set a double-platform shoe on this planet. 
Every generation has its own chance. Admittedly, the many very young women I've met have their doubts about a safe future filled with chances, adventures and harmonious, happy lives where everybody finds their place. The world might still be a playground but the toys are hard, slick and expensive nowadays.

"You give me hope", a 23-year-old woman told me recently. "I was 
a little bit afraid of old age, but not when I see you. You are so lively, daring, good-looking, self-confident,  strong and feminist! (I'm just quoting here, she said that!) If I could be like you one day I would be really happy!"
I think I blushed, and my eyes got a little moist at the corners. All the other young women I've talked to over the years said the same, basically, "you almost seem ageless, like you're one of us!" Thank you thank you thank you! Couldn't think of a greater compliment.

I think we older women have something to offer, and if role models 
were ever needed, now is the time - and we are pretty good ones.
We are their future, they represent our past. They still wait for theirs; we've been where they are now. So we're ahead of them.
I had always hoped that all my experiences, the joys and pains, the discoveries and resolutions - and finally gaining some wisdom -weren't in vain.

I wish that I/we could parcel what we know, make it into survival 
kits for our young women, our daughters and friends, granddaughters, troubled teens, well-adjusted young women, too. Giving it to them as a gift to at least look at - even if they don't totally trust its wise content - would be a great thing.
Sure, they need to fight their own battles, yet I think, we belong together, the old, the young, and the middle-aged. We can dip into each other's pool of experience. If these young women can get a little glimpse of their future in me - and I can re-discover my past in them, we're the perfect duo and on to something beautiful.

Thank you, dear young women. You've made my week, even my 

And lemme tell you something I definitely know better.....Ok, well, 
maybe along...

Blog: GRAY IN L.A.


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