Yesterday I spent more than three hours on my smartphone with former college classmate Dr. Kathleen Huebner. She was in Tuscon, Arizona. I was in New Haven, Connecticut. But it was like we were back in Brownlee dorm at Seton Hill University at the end of the 1960s.
We got plenty done, at least from my point of view. Finally I was able to put my horrible biological family relationships behind me. Embraced that I will never have a "big job" again. And, yes, that I was going to continually get older, not younger. Unlike therapists, executive coaches, psychics and medical doctors, Huebner knew exactly what our generational values, expectations and disappointments were, are and could be.
The best professional helpers can do is align an abstract principle with the human being sitting in front of them. As I aged I have been increasingly frustrated dealing with them. I assumed they were not really listening. The reality is that they couldn't hear my generational pain
Those of us Baby Boomers who are determined to continue to work might find the most useful guidance on pulling that off by reaching back to college buddies. After all, they were the ones who got us through those four years of absolute authority, required courses, conformity (the residue of the Eisenhower years), pressure to find a husband and total lack of confidence about stepping out into a future.
That was an accidental discovery. Eight years ago former roomie Charlotte Toal called to get together as she shut down her mother's house in Derby, Connecticut. We hadn't seen each other since the 1970s. Shock. She felt the same way I did about the past, present and future. We sorted out. There was the ah-ha moment when I knew I had to get more of that.
Today, my network includes college friends Tulane Thomas, Irene Nunn, Lee Harrison, Karen Cordaro and Anne Desmond. Years ago I would have looked to them for professional benefits, such as referrals for assignments. Now, I know I need them to navigate what I never have taken on before: aging.