Just about everybody wants to be appreciated. In our early years, it makes us feel good if a parent or teacher compliments us.
As we get older, we enjoy testing our skills in competitions. Can we run faster, or jump higher, or do math problems quicker?
By the time we move into high school, most of us become aware of both our strengths and weaknesses. If we can match activities we like with those where we excel, we may develop a formula for adult success.
Later on – as we move into our middle years – we still appreciate recognition. But we also enjoy applying our skills, teaching our children or relatives, and passing our knowledge along to others.
What makes you proud? That’s the question we put to our focus group.
“I found myself,” said one older Boomer, “through the help of much therapy.”
“I went back to college and completed my degree,” said T.S. “It took me 20 years from start to finish, and I was told by many along the way that it didn’t matter, but I’m so glad I did it.
“At the very least, it’s an accomplishment of perseverance. It may not have made any difference as to what I did with my life, but it was much harder to learn in my mid-30’s, so I give myself credit for going back.”
Noted R.R.: “I feel I have lived up to the high standards that were instilled in me by my parents, and that I have done my best never to disgrace my family. I earned a college degree, and I am proud to have been independent all these years, and have never relied on the charity of someone else for a roof over my head.
“I feel I have achieved a comfort level within myself, and that I have proved myself a reliable, loving, and devoted daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, wife, and friend.”
“I am proud that I am a trustworthy person,” said G.M. “I’ve just tried to do a good job wherever I’ve been.”
“I renewed my relationship with God,” said another.
“I could say raising a wonderful son,” said a contemplative K.L. “But we are talking Baby Boomers, and we are supposed to be self-centered. So I guess I would point to getting my pilot’s license, sailing halfway around the world in a 70’s sailboat, and a successful career.”
“I had a part in the creation of two amazing little humans,” said T.C. “As a child, and even as a young adult, I thought accomplishment meant something career-related. But every time I look at my two beautiful creations, I know differently.”
“I succeeded in marrying a good man, the product of which is a wonderful daughter,” said M.F.
“I’m proud that I raised two children without much help,” noted S.W.
“I am so proud of my husband and three girls,” said P.M. “I was a stay-at-home mom and took part in everything they did, whether I was wanted or not.
“My husband and I made the commitment to be the best parents we could be if we decided to have children. Both of us had good childhoods.
“All three of our girls have college educations, and are all taking care of themselves with successful careers. All have found their husbands – or husbands-to-be – and have started on their own lives.”
“I’m proud of having our son,” emphasized one older Boomer, “and parenting him in a way that was much better than when I grew up. We gave him many opportunities for a great education, and he has taken advantage of it.
“I cared for my parents as they unraveled in their later years, and our son was able to love them – and experience their love – by our having a close connection with them.”
“I am gratified,” said another Boomer, “that I spent 30 years in the Air Force helping provide health care worldwide, and that I continue supporting organizations that provide health care to indigents.”
Said another contemplative respondent: “I’ve worked really hard to be a good husband, physician, business person, community volunteer, and friend.”
Finally, we loved this statement from A.T., which gets right to the essence of accomplishment: “Simply put, I’ve been a good person. I’ve striven to walk gentle upon the earth, to leave everything and everyone better off than they were before I got there. And to show for my efforts, I am loved. That’s all that really matters, isn’t it?”
What did we learn?
1. Knowing more about oneself helps us to better understand others.
2. Defining goals and then accomplishing them builds self-esteem.
3. A college degree was a major goal of many Boomers, which may explain why we’ve had more formal education than other generations.
4. Trustworthiness, reliability, and spirituality are major concerns of this generation.
5. Many of us view parenting as our highest calling.
6. For the most part, we have been eager to take advantage of educational opportunities, and we want our children to do the same.
7. As we’ve moved into mid-life, we’ve tried to pass our skills and knowledge along to others.
8. The Information Age has made us aware of world issues like hunger and disease, and many of us try to help alleviate these problems.