This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class, is available by clicking here Click here for her website:

Now, onto my blog:

Broken BottleThroughout my life, I’ve encountered people who are described as “fragile” both by themselves and by others.  These people have been co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, and more.  Fragile seems to mean that they can’t tolerate too much pressure, stress, responsibility, expectations, etc., or they “fall apart.”

I’m not the fragile type.  I come across as responsible, capable, reliable, tough.  Therefore, others have high expectations of me and are upset if I fail to live up to them.  I am expected to show up on time, not complain, do the job assigned to me, and produce results, not excuses.  However, fragile people are not held to this standard.  They are given a pass because, after all, they are fragile.

I’ve never been sure if fragility is actual or a successful protective shield which is carefully honed during a lifetime.  Certainly, it yields high payoffs to some practitioners.  A co-worker years ago earned the same salary as I and had the same job description, but expectations for her were far less than for me.  When extra work needed to be done, it was usually me who was tapped.  And my reward?  More work, of course.  When I was lamenting the situation to another co-worker, his response was, “Well, she’s fragile.”  That was my introduction to that descriptor of ineptitude, a very manipulative behavior in this case.

I’ve pondered over the years how to jump on the fragile train.  I’m not a natural at it, and it doesn’t fit my personality.  However, I’ve tried to acquire the skill.  Usually,  however, my true nature shows through, and others don’t let me get away with it.

So, I’m putting it out to the world.  I want to be fragile.  If you encounter me or deal with me, take your expectations elsewhere and let me screw up over and over with minimal consequences, at the same salary, of course.


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Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, senior citizens, seniors, successful aging, wellness

8 responses to “Fragile

  1. Patricia Spiegel

    Lee Gale–You got more work because you are so competent! You exude self-confidence. I much prefer your style to “fragile.”

  2. it’s ok for strong people to occasionally be fragile lol

  3. Sheila Sauber

    Hi Lee Gale, oh so true!! As we age we deal with more fragile people …& pray we can keep up with our life the way we were…not fragile. I have a funeral tomorrow of my friend from UCLA who married my friend and was my dentist for 35 or so years. Oy…so sad since our families have been so close. Next Monday I’m off to Greece for 21/2 weeks! (I’m fragile when it comes to packing….). Hugs, Sheila. PS. Looking forward to seeing you in June!

    Bday Sent from my iPhone


  4. Isabel Leonard

    This is not so much a comment on your blog as a question that’s been on my mind for a few days. It is: What is the “senior” version of the words “infantalize” and “infantilization”? The definition of this nonexistent word would be: speak(ing) to an elder in a way that sets out to be helpful but is actually belittling. Example: “Are you sure you can manage those stairs, aunty?” (when you’ve actually seen her climbing them perfectly well). It seems to me that we have a lexical gap which demands a coinage. Senescize/senescization?

    • Infantilize conveys the concept of implied ineptitude, and it seems appropriate for the example you cited. Nevertheless, I like your idea very much of inventing a new word to describe that concept when directed specifically at seniors. Inventing new words is how the English language changes and grows. In my memoir, I deliberately invented a new word: grandmotherhood, because there was no other current term to describe it. I remember my editor taking issue with my new word because it did not exist. I explained to her that I knew that, but I had invented it as I felt it was needed. She laughed, agreed, and let it remain in the book. So, you go girl, and invent new words. Somebody has to do it.

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