I am almost 40 years older than most of the women in my office and that suits me just fine. In fact, I actually like it -- a lot. Aside from the occasional thermostat war (I'm always hot; they are always freezing), we do better than just "get along." Working with colleagues who are younger has helped me stay young in many ways:
1. They educate me on all things hip.
Sure they may rattle off band names and musicians that I've never heard of, but thanks to Google, I can quickly worm my way into the conversation. By coming in to the office, I have increased my Hip Quotient (although I think saying that automatically makes me less hip). I have learned which TV shows are worth binge-watching, which L.A. restaurant only takes reservations online at pre-set hours (Trois Mec), and why pretty much any outfit can be worn with red short boots as long as you exude confidence.
My colleagues are among the smartest women I know -- certainly smart enough to teach this old dog some new tricks. That said, the dog has to be willing to learn.
2. I'm now considered a tech wizard among my age peers.
My colleagues entertain my technology questions without a single eye roll (unlike my 13-year-old son). As a result, I know way more about the digital world than the average 60-year-old. I recently told my synagogue's cantor that his hotmail address dated him because it was so 15-minutes-ago. And he was in awe.
3. I get to go "backstage" to events I don't attend.
I love listening to my work colleagues talk about their romantic relationships, what Coachella was like and why the Burning Man festival was a life-changer. I admire the one woman who spent her birthday and New Year's Eve at a silent retreat at the Esalen Institute and I think about what five days of silence would sound like. I remember when I used to travel to exotic places on short notice like the gal who just came back from visiting her father's childhood home in the Philippines or the one who jetted off to Japan with her boyfriend on his business trip.
Nowadays, my vacations are planned out months in advance and in excruciating detail. When you travel with kids, leaving things to chance is a less desirable course. Plus, traveling has become about seeing the world through my kids' eyes. So yes, when the office women go out together for drinks or to the gym after work, our lives take divergent paths. I go home to my amazing children and dive into their science projects, sit for hours at their soccer practices and watch them grow into young adults -- hopefully young adults just like my office colleagues.
I'm sure my personal life seems pretty staid to my work colleagues, but I also know that one day it won't. By working in an office, I am reminded of what my life was like when I was single and child-less -- and I have become appreciative that I am no longer either.
4. They keep me on my toes.
I tend to be the mothering type. If you have a boo-boo in your life, I look for the Band-Aid to put on it. My office mates indulge my need to mother by seeking my counsel on their problems both professional and personal. And I've also learned that I really don't have to mother them. They are strong women, all. They keep me on my toes and challenge me to put on another hat in the office: I am a woman. That is all; that is plenty.
5. They help me with my wardrobe.
Nothing dates a 60-year-old as fast as what she wears. I'm all for dressing for comfort but comfort and style needn't be mutually exclusive. While at first I dismissed skinny jeans as something for young women without body fat, my colleagues got me to try jeggings. Voila! I love them with oversized sweaters and boots. Yes, red short boots. And nobody laughs.
But what I've really learned from them most is that I am only as old as I feel and that youthfulness is a state of mind.
Just speak plain English. That's always in fashion.
They are not only insulting, but also add to unnecessary and awkward attention to age gaps.
Overcome your reluctance to texting, Twitter, and Facebook. Stop explaining how it used to be -- how you bent over a light box with an Exacto knife to cut and paste, as opposed to a strike of a computer key. Instead, read up on technology articles, take seminars to keep yourself current and always ask for advice from web-savvy friends and family members.
Achieve this by evaluating how to build and bridge ideas, pulling in additional work.
Articulate what they are and why they're important.
Younger techies can benefit from your team building and negotiation skills.
You'll be doing a service and building a team of loyal fans at the same time.
Follow Ann Brenoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AnnBrenoff