(photo: My dog is wearing his invisibility cloak.)
“Nobody tells the carefree 25-year old female that in another 25 years she’ll be invisible.”
I took that quote from a 2/25/15 article on HuffPost50 called, “The Taboo That Still Surrounds the Aging Woman.”
The article discusses stereotypes and aging women’s limited options and the way our society confines us through the media, through language, etc. It ends with a call to women to own the lines in our faces, to see our stories as victories.
Good closing point. I agree.
Except I don’t relate to the introductory sentence, the one that inspires the rest of the story, the one about invisibility.
At 50, I do not feel invisible. I actually feel more visible than I ever have.
When I was 25 and “carefree,” I struggled internally. I had horrible recurring dreams where I could not speak. I became depressed. The real me, the one who didn’t want to stay locked away inside any longer, felt invisible. Invisible and without a voice. Yet, for a long time I kept her hidden because I was afraid to reveal her and find out that people only were interested in me because of the parts that I chose to show them.
As a rule, young people look to the world to define them. They are still in the early stages of learning about who they are and what they care about and how to interact with others in work and at play. They’re experimenting with love and loss and responsibility and recklessness.
We learn as we live. We act. We freeze. We listen. We don’t listen. We look outside for approval. We look inside. We build up armor. We bare ourselves.
Then suddenly, we’re older and we realize that the world can’t define us. We are, and always have been, defined by a combination of genetic information and genetic predisposition and personal experience and individual choices. We can pretend that we are something other than what we are, but we can’t hide forever from our physical reality. We also can’t deny that who we are is always changing in microscopic increments as we live.
There are times when I still look to the world to hear its definition of me, but the difference between the young me and the older me is that I know the world is viewing me as a type, not as a person.
The most important part of this is that as a type, I may be invisible now that I am 50 and a woman. But, as a person, I will never be invisible. There are too many people in my life who know me, and when you know someone, you see them.
The best thing about having gone through what I have to get to 50 is that I’ve finally let down the veil so the people that matter in my life can see me for who I really am.
And I am a person of consequence. As we all are.
Maybe I’m missing the point about invisibility. If you can clarify for me what is meant by that, please do. I’m only one person among many and am curious about how others experience their aging.
Is invisibility one of the issues you face?
I'd love to hear what you think. Share in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
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