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Who’s afraid of their mother? Okay, we aren’t all mothers. But we all could be, and we do look the part. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to meeting people — which is one of my main goals as a traveler.
Men are inherently scary (sorry). Youth and beauty are lovely aspects, but let’s face it, they can be intimidating. And old people are just…well…old. Who wants to risk bad breath and repetitive stories about the grandchildren?
But the middle-aged woman…she’s pretty well guaranteed to be receptive, friendly, and polite. Anyone can approach us and feel secure. Practice your English on us — we have infinite patience. We’ll never laugh at you, or be critical. We’ll help you if we can. Need a hug?
Chances are we’ve spent the past 20 years or so caring for and feeding someone other than ourselves. Old habits die hard. We’re also at the stage of life that we can’t eat whatever we want (and still be able to carry a pack), but we still want to taste everything — another of my main goals as a traveler.
We tend to over-buy and over-order, and are always happy to find someone that we can do the local food justice through vicariously. So feel free to chat up the middle-aged lady at your hostel — there may just be such a thing as a free lunch.
We aren’t (as) afraid anymore.
Young women are the #1 choice for everything…from a holiday romance to human trafficking. They should be wary — and have to limit their activities accordingly. We middle-aged women, on the other hand, have been around the block. Not that we want to be molested by the drunks on the way back to the hostel, but we know that at our age it’s less likely, and we’ve been poked and prodded (mentally and physically) enough in our lives that it takes a lot to shake us up.
So we can take those chances we didn’t dare to before…and as travelers know, that’s often where the best experiences lie.
By middle age, our “nurturing genes” have diminished sufficiently to free us up from all of that responsibility crap. We’ve done our share (and more) of taking care of other people in our lives, and now it’s time to look out for #1 — which is laughably easy. And the fact that we’ve earned it means we don’t have any guilt about it.
We’ve accumulated all the skills to plan, organize, fund, problem-solve, and innovate our way through whatever challenges a trip can present, and maximize the outcome. The saying, “Every adventure involves a certain level of discomfort” is definitely true — and dealing with discomfort with a laugh is the middle-aged woman’s forte.
We’ve been listening to everyone all these years — we aren’t deaf. We often have careers as well, but just what we’ve picked up along the way is enough to make us a lucky find on a long bus ride or to pass the evening. And best of all, we’re old enough to have lost our shyness — we’ll tell you stuff other people won’t, without shame. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll — we’ve been there, done that, and aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.
By the same token, you can tell us anything. Try to shock a middle-aged woman — it ain’t easy. That makes us a cultural exchange opportunity on steroids. It’s the open-minded tolerance combined with knowledge of experience that makes us such great travelers — versatile, resilient, and enthusiastically embracing the best part of the second half.