Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Have the Golden Years become extinct?

There was a time in my life, many years ago, when I was young and pretty that I would set out to look for work and be hired right on the spot. Those days are long gone. I am now 53 years old with silver gray hair and my jovial looks are gone forever. What does that have to do with looking for work you ask? A whole lot!

You see, when you get to a certain age, (past 40 I believe) men (some that is) begin to look interesting with a little gray at the temples, but a woman with gray at the temple is considered, well… just "older." It is a society thing you know, and it influences decisions others make about you. If you are looking for employment, age, unfortunately, does influence being hired for that job you are seeking. Add that to all the other discrimination that’s going around.

I never thought that the day would come where I would be passed over for a job because of a younger person, regardless of my experience, education, skills, and knowledge. Fortunately, I have a full-time job but I've been stuck in a job for many years that’s taken me nowhere. The money I make is barely enough to pay bills and the workload seems to increase every year. I’ve put in for promotions and other positions, only to be given the courtesy of an interview and then passed over for a younger less experienced person. Here’s the thing, time flies fast and I'm not getting younger, which makes it even harder for me to be noticed.

At first, I did not want to believe my friend when she told me that people at age 50 and older are not hirable. However, as I was passed for promotions and other positions I put in for, I began to see that there was some truth to what my friend said to me. Then a new fear took hold of me. What if I lose this job? It will be even more difficult for me to find employment. I know I'm not young anymore but I'm not ready for retirement either. Then someone suggested I go back to coloring my hair and I thought, “that's ridiculous!” You mean to say that unless I colored my hair again and pretend to look young, I will not get the job? Do we live in such a shallow society?

Has it always been this way? I believe not. I recall a time when men went to work, and many women stayed home and took care of their families. When retirement came around, you retired, and that was final. What's changed then? Well, a troubled economy and the high cost of living. Today, many that looked forward to their retirement are finding they cannot sustain themselves on what they are getting and are going back into the workforce.

However, even as the older generation goes back to work, not only are they faced with age discrimination, but are penalized for doing so. They are only allowed to work a certain amount of hours or they will lose the benefits they are getting, yet what they are earning at their part-time job is not sufficient to make ends meet. So, either way, they lose. There's no win-win situation for the aging.

You can say reality has hit me hard as if someone punched me in the gut. My thoughts for my future changed from one of being confident to one of uncertainty. I now find myself thinking what’s going to happen to me as I get older and can’t work anymore? Then I’m reminded of a great promise, and I’m comforted. My comfort comes from one Bible verse that I seem to hang on to more and more as my hair gets grayer:

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isa 46:4

Yes, I am older and with a few health issues, but I’m not dead yet and I refuse to be discarded like an old rag. Life does not stop and neither do the bills just because we age. When it comes to youth, we can’t compete with these young healthy bodies but the we do have an advantage. We still have all the years of experience, knowledge, and skills to back us up, but most of all, we have PERSEVERANCE, we just have to find a different way to apply all of this to this day and age.

By the way, I no longer waste my time seeking employment where I know only the young are being hired, I go looking where the older generation is being hired. Thoughts of establishing my own little home-based business has began to play in my mind as well. No, I'm not done yet. I still have many years ahead of me and I don't want to waste them worrying. I much rather spend my time finding solutions.