We use the term engagement in many ways in our culture and the terms “engage”, “engagement”, and “engaging” have multiple overlapping meanings. The definition that most frequently comes to mind for many women is “engagement to be married”, but there are many other relevant definitions of the term worth exploring. Some of the definitions offered by Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.com include:
- Engagement means fully occupied or having your full attention. . . If you’re busy or involved with something, you’re engaged in it;
- Engaging – to pledge oneself, to hold the attention of, to induce participation, to begin and carry on an enterprise or activity;
- Engage – to do or take part in something, to give attention to something, to come together and interlock;
- Engage – to offer (something, such as one’s life or word) as backing to a cause or aim: to expose to risk for the attainment or support of some end; and
- Engagement – betrothal; to pledge oneself; a formal agreement to get married.
We become engaged (and disengaged) from various interests, social involvements, projects, groups and causes throughout our lifetime. Every day and at every life stage we have opportunities to become involved in activities and relationships that are meaningful to us. As older women, we can reflect on the relationships, causes, hobbies, and areas of intellectual inspiration that have engaged us in the past and identify the ways that we are (and are not) currently engaged with life. Sometimes as we age, we tend to disengage from activities, people, and aspirations that we had passion and energy for earlier in our lives. This is not necessarily either good or bad.
Sometimes disengagement can be healthy; other times it can be limiting and life-suppressing. Only you can decide whether your level of engagement with others and with the world around you are satisfying or unsatisfying, too impoverished or too consuming. Our interests are dynamic and ever-changing. Let’s talk about the meaning of engagement in our present lives.
- What have you found yourself strongly drawn to in the past and what was the nature of your involvement in that group, activity or relationship?
- How do you feel about your present level of engagement with life? Are there things you would like to add to your life? Are there things you would like to disengage from?
- How do you work with and resolve feelings of ambivalence about being engaged with a person, project or activity?
- If you have been (or are) engaged to be married, what did (or does) that mean to you?