In June I attended my twenty-fifth college reunion. Preparing for the drive down, I joked on Facebook, “I hope I can publish a book, get a facelift and lose 30 pounds in the next 3 hours.”
Objectively, I am not as successful of some of my peers — writers and doctors and movie producers. But it was all okay. Seriously.
In the 1930s, German-born psychologist Erik Erikson identified eight psychosocial stages of human development:(1),(2)
1) Trust versus Mistrust: 0 - 1 year old
2) Autonomy versus Shame & Doubt: 2 - 3 years old
3) Initiative versus Guilt: 4 - 6 years old
4) Industry versus Inferiority: 7 - 12 years old
5) Identity versus Role Confusion: 13 - 19 years old
6) Intimacy versus Isolation: 20 - 34 years old
7) Generativity versus Stagnation: 35 - 65 years old
8) Integrity versus Despair: 65+ years old
Twenty-five years ago, my classmates and I were a quirky, idealistic mix of children/almost-adults in a private college on the east coast. We were in what Erikson describes as a period of searching for identity.(1)Who is our peer group, what do we believe?
Last June we were all nearing 50, solidly in Erikson’s 7th stage — Generatively vs. Stagnation. Some of us still fashionable, some of us very powerful and some still shy, we were overall relaxed and self-possessed.
At this stage of life, according to Erikson, “A person does his best at this time to put aside thoughts of death and balance its certainty with the only happiness that is lasting: to increase, by whatever is yours to give, the goodwill and higher order in your sector of the world.”(3)
Ah, yes, let’s put aside those thoughts of death.
10 Women Nearing 50 Talk about Aging
How about lasting happiness? I asked the women of the class of 1991, all in their late 40s, what they thought about aging. Their answers cover the spectrum, from the irreverent to the philosophical. Read on.
#1 - Corrin, Product Manager
“I’m actually so much happier and more comfortable with my own bad-ass-ness than I ever was in my twenties.
1) Erik Erikson. muskingum.edu. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
2) Erikson's Stages of Development Chart. PsychologyCharts.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016.
3) How You Tell Your Own Story Affects Mental Health. Psyweb.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016.