It’s amazing that when I think of stereotypes I don’t usually think of myself. But more and more often I find that I too am the object of stereotyping. Have you thought of the stereotype of a widow? I’m usually confronted with one of two expectations. First there’s the picture of a dowdy matron, always dressed in black, grim, solemn, quiet, often bitter — a sad, dried up old lady. Or there’s the other stereotype of the widow – a woman on the make, flirting and making every move to snag another man.
I’m not going through the rest of my life wearing black and standing quietly on the side lines. It’s true I’m old-fashioned about a lot of things and I’ve been known to be unfashionable as well. But I’m not going to face life grim and grumpy, never laughing or having fun.
As for the second stereotype — there’s got to be a way to live so that I can be social, active and having fun, without the assumption that I’m looking for a man to fill my time and desires. So that others don’t see me as on the prowl (which I personally find to be quite funny). And yet there are certainly times when I’d rather be part of a 2 than a 1. I’m definitely learning to be content in my singleness, but it is a process to find the balance between desiring what you once had and accepting where you are today.
There’s got to be a place between the two stereotypes. A place where I can be me – the same me that was married for 36 years, the same me that loved to laugh and be with people. And yet, a place where I can also be the new me — the me that doesn’t have a partner to move through life with.
Yes, I feel like there’s a new me. I feel like I now have a second life. While I would have never chosen this (I liked my first life just fine, thank you), this is what I now have. A second life. A second life to make choices and decisions about. A second life to try new things and have new adventures. A second life to do some things differently than I did the first time. Given this second life, I hope I’ll be better about making certain decisions – that I’ll do a better job than I did the first time.
How do you overcome stereotypes? Except, to not be one.