hand holding polaroid over ocean

By Jane Sandwood

Going through life can be pictured as a rushing stream, flowing and collecting various leaves and branches that eventually settle at the bottom of a rich and prosperous pond. As we continue to gain enlightenment and insightful experience throughout life’s journey, it’s useful to take a moment and reflect on how our external attitudes and actions project our internal changes. How does our pond appear to others? For those further in life that have retired, it’s advised to really take the time and assess what elements of personal joy and fulfillment drive the course of your everyday actions. Action speaks for the true nature of our inner self, thus the continued change of action promotes us to constantly evaluate how we change ourselves.

What Your Apparel Says 

Regardless of what preconceptions people may have towards fashion, clothing is the first thing seen of a person’s external self. Shawls or scarves are dependent on season and cultural context when used as a wardrobe. Thus, taking note of what we wear on a normal basis can give insight into how we reflect our inner selves on a daily basis. In modern culture, clothing serves the function of a social marker, reflecting both how we want to appear towards others along with affirming how we want to see ourselves. Typically, our style in clothing changes over time. People in their youth will often go for attire that’s a bit more trendy or provocative, as their inner selves are at a state of more rapid and energetic change. Social factors also play a part, as young people are still at a point of modifying their personalities to serve the expectations of those around them. As stated by Professor Karen J. Pine, of the University of Hertfordshire in her research, “When we put on a piece of clothing we cannot help but adopt some of the characteristics associated with it…” With age comes a more moderate wardrobe, as the inner self becomes settled and desires change less.

Change in Perspective with Age

Perspective on what it means to grow old often changes with each passing generation. Certain circumstances for how we go about living our later years, such as how we should approach retirement, have changed with modern culture. While prior generations sought to be retired for longer than being employed to maintain their roles as elders of their family, the next generation to retire is expected to remain active, with an occupation and as an individual. In a way, this is a good thing, as it encourages us to continue challenging our inner selves by having to compromise and grow through public interaction. While it’s speculated that we settle into the habits of our personality by the age of 30, a theory proposed by Harvard psychologist William James’ in his text The Principles of Psychology, an active retirement can offer a new phase to life and open doors to new possible behaviors.

Change is Made Through Action

Going through periods of subtle and immense change are unavoidable throughout life. It is because of this that our inner and outer selves will rarely be in sync, and truly representative of each other. What we feel and desire from life and our relationships will never quite match how we communicate that to others. Yet, it is this dynamic of conflict between our internal and external selves that leads to the most substantial change we experience as people. By taking the time to identify the issues that cause us strife and imbalance, necessary changes can be made to both facilitate progress in our lives and promote unity between our inner and outer selves.

Whether engaging with attire, others, or ourselves, change constantly occurs. By continuing to act on our interactions in life, we can only continue to promote and project positive change between our inner and outer selves.

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