The lines defining different generations are blurring and there’s a name for the ‘ageless’ generation. To be a Perennial, you defy expectations previously associated with age and have a more ‘enduring’ mindset. Coupled with living solo, we think adopting an enduring mindset means there are opportunities to lead a fulfilled, active and satisfying life in a way living alone has never offered before.
The rise of solo living is a significant social change and we think it is linked to another interesting recent societal change known as generational blurring.
Since the mid-20th Century, we have been familiar with generational cohorts – a way to group together people who are thought to display and share similar values and behaviour. For instance, we are all familiar with Baby Boomers. People born after the second world war; thought of as hardworking, resourceful, who managed to gain full employment during an economic boom and who are now enjoying comfortable pensions.
You will have heard of Generation X portrayed as cynical and prioritising a better balance between life and work, whereas Millenials are recognised as the tech-savvy and socially conscious. Most recently, Generation Z has emerged and entered into our vocabulary. They are both environmentally aware and health conscious. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that generational stereotypes have been widely accepted as a means to understand individuals and what may bind them with others.
But here is what’s interesting. The lines – and supposed differences – between each generational cohort are becoming increasingly indistinct. In other words, the lines which helped group us and our interests are increasingly blurred. More so, the idea that people of the same age will necessarily have the same interests is now becoming antiquated. Consequently, the founder of ‘The What’, Gina Pell has coined the term Perennials – people of all ages who do not feel defined by their age nor their generational cohort.
Because of this new recognition, she says big corporations like Netflix and Amazon are now segmenting customers based on their behaviour rather than their generation or demographic. She suggests we do the same.
Perennials and the ageless generation
Pell describes Perennialism as an “inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic”. Perennials with an ‘enduring’ mindset have friends of all ages and stay up to date with trends and technology. She urges us to join her movement; to choose our own cohort and reject the constraints chosen for us on generational grounds.
Whether or not we are aware of it, many of us are already living an ‘ageless’ life. The Telegraph reported women in their 40s and 50s do not identify with the term ‘middle-aged’ whatsoever. In fact, 80% of those who took part in their study think their lives and experiences are not reflective of societal assumptions often associated with middle-aged women.
Age is not a defining factor
Indeed, 84% said they do not feel age is a defining factor of who they are. Interviewed in the article was Polly Kemp, a 51-year-old mother of three whose passions include Instagram, fashion and travelling. She and her 19-year-old daughter share hobbies and clothes. Polly says her life is very different from both her mother’s and grandmother at her age.
Reading this article, I was reminded of my own mother, Susan. Despite our 26 year age gap and parent-child relationship, my mum and I share a taste in clothes and many interests. There is a regular exchange of wardrobe items between us. Recently, we came across a photograph of my late grandmother taken at a time when she was only two years older than my mum is now.
We were both astounded by the differences in her appearance when comparing her with how my mum looks today. My grandmother looked very much like an old-fashioned granny with short grey hair and wearing very sensible, frumpy clothes. If anything, she looked a lot older than her modest fifty plus years.
My mum, however, has her dark hair in a chic bob and loves clashing bold prints and bright colours. Together with my sister we regularly take trips and holidays, dine out and do things like going to the theatre or the movies. We are friends in a way that goes beyond previously held expectations and norms of mother-daughter relationships.
While my gran’s life was heavily defined by what was expected of women of her age at the time, my mother ’s social life is more active than ever. She doesn’t seem to have aged at all in my lifetime – because she hasn’t followed the typical way of doing it.
Having the time of your life
It’s an experience resonating with many ‘middle-aged’ women whether they have children or not, who say they have never been healthier and happier than at this stage of their life. Journalist Starre Vartan says she feels as though she is ‘growing younger’, it’s just that she has accumulated some life experience behind her. In her 20’s, she worked in a stressful, full-time job with a long commute. But now, although she makes less money, she enjoys more freedom working from home.
What’s behind the trend?
But what’s behind this trend for the perennial, ageless woman? Well, there are a number of reasons. One consumer trend analyst cites later retirement due to economic pressures and the rising pension age as one reason and why women tend to spend more time with their younger colleagues. Adding to this, the reality of more adult children living at home for longer is thought to be another influential reason behind an enduring mindset.
Perhaps another theme from some women’s experiences is personal growth and fulfilment. In today’s world, there is arguably less pressure to conform to societal expectations. Today, a woman going out and pursuing her own career, interests and social life over housework is less likely to be questioned as it was for women of a previous generation. Could this be another reason behind the rise of the ageless woman? That there is no, or certainly less pressure to change your priorities, interests, or indeed your life, as you age?
Living alone with an age-defying mindset
It is easy to see the link between the rise of the perennial, ageless woman with the solo living trend. Living solo can contribute to a sense of youth as you are able to defy stereotypes accompanying age. Why? Because you are able to set your own parameters in all areas of your active life. Even more so for those of us who are childfree. Solos are also thought to be better socially connected on and offline, arguably investing more time in nurturing and developing friendships compared to their coupled and married counterparts. They are also thought to proportionally spend more money on leisure activities like eating out and going to the cinema.
When you live solo, it is perhaps easier to feel the same at 50 as you did at 20 and to feel a sense of freedom that is different from the experience of couples. There is the opportunity to push boundaries in all areas of life often associated by age because sometimes it feels that solos have no choice but to otherwise do so. Interestingly, both trends have been shown to be good for your health and happiness. For a happier and content life, living solo coupled with a perennial and enduring mindset sounds not only like the way to go but also, a way to ultimately, be.