A friend of mine is writing a paper on why women over 40 say they feel invisible. I’ve read about this before, and I have to say I’ve felt it to some extent. But it caused me to think about whether or not I feel invisible being of an advanced age.
Between 40 and 50, I think I did feel invisible. On my 40th birthday, I had just broken off an engagement, and I had to start dating again. I remember feeling like I was too old to be dating. I wasn’t young and able to have children anymore. I thought those were the things that were important to men. Let’s face it, men like to date younger. But I felt really young. I really didn’t want to date older. I wanted someone my own age or in the near vicinity.
Of course I met someone and without much consciousness, I married him. So, I spent most of my 40s in a bad marriage just trying to get by. Being invisible wasn’t much of a concern to me. Trying to figure out my life was my biggest concern. I was a mess. My life was a mess. Frankly, I felt relieved to be invisible.
I did not like the approach to 50. This would surely be the end of my life as I knew it. I’d start the downhill slide into old age. It was about to be over. Sure, there were celebrities who looked good into their 50s but that’s not real folk. They have access to resources I don’t have. The closer I got to my 50th birthday, the worse it got. One morning I got up and decided I could either let myself slide into the inevitable or reframe what 50-years-old means. I decided if it was coming – and it was – I’d embrace it for what it was. I knew that at 75 I’d find it amusing that I thought I was old at 50. Why not adopt that attitude while I’m young enough to do something about it?
I started reading about women who were having happy lives after 50. I filled my head with quotes that professed the power of being middle age. I ultimately decided that there is no one particular path that people over 50 take, but the one I was going to take was going to be empowering. I felt good. I was going to do what I felt like regardless of the number on my birthday cake. I decided to live my life with intention and cut out the filler. Up to that point, the world pretty much told me how to live. After 50, this was going to be my ballgame. And when I start to feel old, well, I’ll deal with it.
In answer to my friend’s question, I do feel invisible in that I’m not the hot young thing in the office anymore. I’m not the gal that’s climbing the corporate ladder trying to get on every important agenda that would move me up to that next rung. I don’t care to be in the groups that party all the time. And if I don’t like you, you pretty much know it. I also don’t put up with petty BS, office drama and people who can’t shoot straight. That pretty much rules out most of the population. To all of them, I probably am invisible. But I’m highly visible to those who matter. In fact, I’d argue that I’m more visible than ever. In order to be “visible”, I have to be “visible” to myself. I have to know who I am.
Today I choose what I want to do. I rarely cave to peer pressure, and, if I do, it’s because of a relationship. I’m still trying new things. I’d rather write than party. I’d rather hike than go on a dinner date. I don’t dress my age, and I don’t even know what “dressing for my age” would look like. I color my hair, and I get facials to keep my skin looking good but I don’t do anything artificial to cover up my age. I want my face to be filled with that beautiful shiny smiling light that I’ve seen in 60 and 70-something yoga instructors. I want to be comfortable with who I am and own the age I’m in. I exercise and am eating better than I ever did. I’m more comfortable with myself and my life is easier without all the drama. I’m living my life on my terms. (Well, I do wish I was independently wealthy, but I can’t have everything.)
Do I feel invisible? Sometimes. Sometimes I long for those younger years when I was such a go-getter. But I know that I have been there … done that. I know how that movie ends, and it wasn’t all that special. The priorities of youth sometime seem a bit silly to me now. Unexpectedly, I think I’m more attractive to the opposite sex than I ever was in my younger years. I have no idea why. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we are all attracted to the light in others. I know my light shines much more boldly than it ever did because I stoke it with what makes me tick. I’m me … like it or not.
Invisible??? Nah. That’s for the younger crowd. I choose to be invincible.
Do you feel invisible? If so, do you know how you’d like to change that?