For a lot of young women, thinking about what our lives are going to look like in the near future takes up a lot of the present. Do I want to try to get a high-powered job? Do I want to get married? Do I want to have kids? Do I want to drop out of society, become a freelance circus clown, and use my free time to teach yoga to houseplants?
Contemplating life 10 or 15 years down the road is both fun (limitless possibility, whee!) and terrifying (if I want to make any of this stuff happen, I probably have to get cracking on it within the next 35 minutes), and almost everyone, from our peers to the growing number of investment apps, encourages us to do it. But thinking about old age is different.
For starters, almost no one is urging us to consider our golden years — very few of our parents have ruined Thanksgiving by asking when we’re going to stop goofing off and start thinking seriously about 2068. It’s also inherently difficult to look 40 or 50 years into the future — 50 years ago, the internet didn’t exist and people thought smoking wasn’t that bad for you. A lot could change. Add in the fact that plans and goals shift based on life experiences, and it can be tempting to tell yourself you’ll think about your life as an old lady at some vague future date (like, say, when you’re actually an old lady and can no longer put it off).
But there’s value in thinking about what you want your distant-future to be like, and not just so you can plan financially. Envisioning your own distant future and listening to other women ponder theirs can provide a broader sense of what we're all working toward, individually and collectively, and what it will take to get there.
This fall, the Bustle Trends Group, Bustle’s internal research department, surveyed 332 millennial women, and found that, not only do 85 percent of them think the world will be a better place 10 years from now, but most of the women surveyed had ideas about what their lives will look like when they’re 70 as well. Their answers were far from uniform: some picture settling down with a partner and some plan on staying single; some want to travel the world and some don’t want to go much further than their porch; some want to spend their golden years righting the world’s wrongs and some just want to kick back with a good cup of coffee. But all of the answers are intriguing, inspiring, and reminders that no matter how much the world changes over the next 50 years, we’ll still be us.
So, what did the women surveyed think a day in the life of their 70-year-old selves would look like?
Like Meryl Streep’s Vacation Pics
“I hope I'm traveling the world with a partner I love, looking back on a career that was fulfilling for me and use my strengths to give back to the world, and regularly seeing my amazing friends and family. I would like to have kids and hope that they're doing what they want and happy and fulfilled. I also hope I'm continuing to do volunteer work in my community and staying active! Kathrine Switzer just did a marathon at 70. Hopefully I'll still be doing 10Ks!”
“Like a Nancy Meyers movie.”
“I will knit in my rocking chair with a cat or a dog in my lap, grandchildren running around me, fire in the fireplace.”
“Travel, travel, cocktails, travel.”
“Wake up and have sex with my 45 year old hunny, finish packing for our meditation/party cruise, get ready for my speaking engagement to 10k people, video chat with my five adopted children and grandchildren, muah!”
“I hope I'm living like Iris Apfel.”
Not That Amazing
“Hopefully the planet even exists by then.”
“I feel like when I'm 70 years old the world will be even more polluted and there could even be fishless oceans (if we continue to destroy the environment at the rate we are currently going). I don't think life will be very pleasant. Perhaps more progressive and accepting toward minorities, women, etc. but global warming seems like it's just getting worse and people don't care enough to change their actions and at least slow it down.”
“I hope I will still see my best friends.”
“That will be 47 years now from. I'm hoping that I'll be long dead by then, honestly.”
Comfortable In Their Own Damn Skin
“I imagine being single, or acting single, and living with my best friend somewhere in the Sierras. Close enough to a town where we can go out and be inappropriate cougars and have fun, but can still live like sweet old ladies in our cabin. I have this feeling that later in life, I will want to use the wisdom and knowledge I've gained in life to relive my 20s.”
“I am contentedly retired, smoking my pipe in my small, backyard garden. I take ambling walks early in the morning, keep a tiny, but robust garden, and take time to read a little every day. My brain is healthy, my heart is healthy, and while my body is older and inevitably slowing, I have accepted it. Even if I don't have kids, that I feel warmth when I see kids playing together. I'm probably alone, but fine with that. And I talk to my younger neighbor about her life to keep up with what's going on...towards the end of my life, I'm hopeful for the newer generations.”
“Wake up next to the love of my life. Slowly make breakfast. Turn on the news. Rant or praise current state of the country. Call my daughters to see if they've heard the news. Hear them be as outspoken as I was at their age. Hear my husband chuckle and shake his head when we argue about politics because they might be more progressive than I'll be at that time. Although annoyed, I'll still be slightly proud that they have that spunk... I have retired from the law firm and husband has retired from the fire department. Things are better for women — they’re more successful in STEM careers and there’s more representation in media. Catcalling and sexual harassment is recognized and frowned upon. Gender norms are not as restricted anymore.”
“I'm hoping to break my fear of life by the time I'm 70. I'm hoping to defeat my social anxiety and become an integral part of my community. I want to regularly do things that excite me. I want to be a skydiving, free-of fear 70 year old.”
“Retirement. Doing all the things I couldn’t afford in my 20s, and didn’t have time for in my 30s. Do everything I ever was afraid to do back when I had my future to lose. Travel, and don’t give a sh*t what people think... Realize that you’re too old and have too little time to give any f*cks. So do it. Check off the dumbest, most impulsive things on that bucket-list. Cuz, hey, if you die, you’ve already lived a good and boring life. So die happy doing something crazy that you love.”
“I hope to be a retired boss lady with my husband and some cats. Happy to have traveled and had good experiences, but also happy to live in a time where more women are treated as equals. I want to be able to look back on a time where people asked me why I didn't want children and chuckle, ‘Thank goodness people stopped questioning women who did not want children some time ago.’ I want to be well-known for my sass.”
Happy To Be Living In A World That Is Even Slightly Better
“Being with other strong older women seeing how the new generation fights back.”
“Trump will be long gone, so I'll be happy.”
“This is really intense, I just want the basics and no one abusing me since old black women usually live in extreme poverty. I hope I have all my mental and physical faculties.”
“I envision equality for women and also for the LGBT community. I envision our country progressing in technological breakthroughs. I see us being more mindful of each other and being more kind. I also envision more that one female president of the United States, and that having females in power will help us stay strong and help us grow over all as a country and society.”