Is it all that bad?
As we age, it's not uncommon for women over 45 to feel like they're fading into the background, becoming less noticeable in a society that often places a premium on youth and external appearances. This sense of invisibility can stem from a variety of factors, including cultural norms, media representations, and the subtle, yet persistent, effects of ageism.
There is a growing trend to rebel against the cultural shaming of aging, to shout from the rooftops and demand to be seen, yet what if the unexpected benefits of being invisible outweigh the rest? What if we age gracefully accepting the natural process for what it is and ignoring society’s expectations to do our own thing?
This post covers some of the advantages of aging invisibly, take a look and see what resonates with you.
Freedom from Judgment
In this phase of life, the liberating aspects of being "invisible" begin to emerge. Without the constant scrutiny and judgment that can come with being in the spotlight, women over 45 find a newfound sense of freedom. No longer constrained by societal expectations, they have the space to be authentic and true to themselves.
Consider the experience of Jane, a woman in her late 50s who, after years of feeling pressure to conform to external standards, discovered the joy of living life on her own terms. Embracing her "invisibility," she explored being herself, forged deeper connections, and ultimately, found a renewed sense of self-worth.
“I stopped wearing makeup every day, put on comfy used clothing, and sold most of my corporate suits and shoes. As no one noticed me in the office it felt ridiculous to continue the dressing up. Being more myself, I felt more relaxed, and with it, my ability to work and results increased. If people stopped by my desk it was for something important. I became the wise ‘frumpy’ person at the back of the room and I loved the role.”
This phase offers a unique opportunity for introspection and self-discovery. Freed from the need to constantly project a certain image, women over 45 can delve into their inner selves, uncovering hidden passions and aspirations that may have been overlooked in earlier years.
Susan, a woman in her 60s, shares how her "invisible" years allowed her to explore creative pursuits she had long set aside. Through painting and writing, she found a profound sense of fulfillment and self-expression, ultimately leading to a greater sense of purpose.
“An elderly friend once gave me wonderful advice, ‘stop caring what you think other people think about you, just be you’. Now at 64, I get it, I have never felt more happy being me. I say what I feel, do what makes me happy on the inside, and draw strength from knowing that I will never be friends or liked by everyone, yet those who do are meant to be.”
Focusing on Authentic Relationships
With the distractions of external expectations minimized, women over 45 have the chance to prioritize genuine, meaningful connections. Friendships and relationships forged during this phase tend to be based on shared values, mutual respect, and a deeper understanding of one another.
Take the example of Karen, who, in her 50s, found that her "invisible" years allowed her to discern the true essence of her relationships. She nurtured connections that brought joy and support into her life, while gently letting go of those that no longer served her growth.
“Oh! I cannot tell you how life-changing and liberating the invisible years have been. I have watched other women suffer depression and spend their days rolling in negativity, stuck in the past. Not me. If I hear a moan from a friend I nudge her to investigate, if it continues I let her go. Time becomes really important and I only want to spend it with those who I get and they get me too.”
Self-Care and Well-Being
This phase is an opportune time for women to invest in their well-being, both physically and mentally. Engaging in regular exercise, adopting nourishing self-care routines, and prioritizing mental health all contribute to a strong foundation for the years ahead.
Diana, in her late 50s, found that dedicating time to yoga and meditation not only improved her physical health but also brought a newfound sense of inner peace. Embracing her "invisible" phase, she learned the invaluable lesson that self-care is an act of self-love.
“Being in the spotlight meant little time for me. I was constantly serving others. When invisibility hit me like a freight train, I really thought the world had ended. Then one morning I realized that invisibility had created so much space in my life. I could use it to my advantage. I no longer wanted to be part of the anti-aging movement, yet wanted to grow old gracefully. I did the Table of Life exercise and began to focus on making everything strong. I love where I’m at today.”
Pursuing Passions and Interests
The "invisible" years provide a canvas for exploring and nurturing long-held passions or discovering new ones. Whether it's gardening, writing, or taking up a musical instrument, this phase invites women to indulge in activities that bring them genuine joy.
Emily, now in her early 60s, reignited her love for travel during her "invisible" phase. Exploring new cultures and cuisines not only enriched her life experiences but also served as a powerful reminder that it's never too late to pursue one's passions.
“We all get to choose how we age and I was determined that if one door closed I would open another. So society said I was ‘over the hill’ and my reply was great, let me go find other societies that adore their elders and hold them in high esteem. So far I have visited, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Greece, and India as well as connected with some Native American tribes. In the Western world, we have it so wrong!”
Contributing to the community and causes dear to one's heart can be particularly fulfilling during this phase. Volunteering, mentoring, or simply lending a helping hand all serve to create a positive impact and leave a legacy of compassion and kindness.
Linda, in her late 50s, found immense gratification in supporting local charities. Her "invisible" years became a time of meaningful service, reminding her that every act of kindness, no matter how seemingly small, holds the power to make a difference.
“Walking home after a stressful day at the local charity shop I passed a lady struggling home with her shopping. I stopped to give a helping hand. Life was not easy for her, yet her stubborn pride was in evidence! Now I leave anonymous gifts and food parcels on her doorstep. It has become the highlight of the Giving Back week.”
Re-emerging with Wisdom
When you release the weight of societal expectations and embrace the powerful advantages that come with our 'invisible' years. Let go of the struggle against age or invisibility, and instead, step into the fullness of who you are. Start by acknowledging the strength and wisdom that comes with age. Embrace your passions, prioritize self-care, and contribute to the causes that resonate with you. Know that your worth is not determined by external validation. Your experiences, wisdom, and presence hold immeasurable value. Life is always an opportunity, not a setback.
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