I’m trying to remember when I first became invisible…it didn’t happen all of a sudden, it came on kind of gradually. It was somewhere around the time I turned 50, or possibly even slightly before that. I simply began to notice that no one looked at me anymore. You know how it is when you’re in a group of people, say, at the farmer’s market…and you notice particular people, usually YOUNG, attractive, YOUNG people…well, no one looks at me. They don’t notice me when I’m walking down the street, they don’t notice me when I’m perusing the aisles at the grocery store, frequently salespeople don’t even look at me when I’m right in front of them at the counter, checking out.
And I know it’s not just me, it’s an age thing. It’s kind of weird, this feeling that you’re invisible. That you don’t matter anymore, that you’ve outlived your usefulness to mankind in general…There are times when it’s okay, because you have this feeling of being able to get away with just about anything, of flying under the radar. But more often than not, it bothers me. I want to be noticed, I want to count for something. I want to feel like I have some value. I find myself being overly friendly and courteous to strangers, as if I have to prove I’m worthy of notice.
Maybe I’m just being vain, but it’s not as if I’m used to being looked at a lot…even in my 20’s I was never drop-dead gorgeous. But there is a definite difference in noticeability. I find myself trying to pinpoint exact things that could cause this phenomenon…I have hardly any wrinkles (NOW I’m being vain), so I know my skin looks younger than my age, at least on my face…although I AM getting age spots on my arms, and my hair is obviously not this color naturally, but these seem like subtle things to me. Is it the fact that I refuse to wear some of the fashions that younger people wear? That I refuse to blow dry my hair straight and then straighten it even further with a flatiron? That I’ve put on weight?
Oh well…I guess I should just stop worrying about it and try to adjust, maybe even learn to enjoy this new anonymity. It’s just that it can be a lonely feeling. Since I’m not working, I’m home alone much of the time. Sometimes I get to feeling so stir crazy that I just have to go out and window shop, or sit in a coffee shop, so that I’m out where people are, only even in the midst of people I still feel alone sometimes.
On a related note, when did all these preschoolers start getting married and popping out babies? It seems just yesterday that I was the young Mom pushing my girls in a stroller, and BOOM! All I see nowadays are mere infants who are parents themselves. I recently joined a Bible study that is made up mostly of stay-at-home wives and Moms (which I guess is what I am at the moment), and at the first meeting, I turned to the girl next to me, introduced myself and asked, “are you a student?” Turned out she was married and had a child or two.
I’ve been trying to find a job, so I study the job postings a lot, and some of them have titles or list skills I’ve never even heard of. I briefly considered returning to school to learn a new, more relevant job skill, but college has changed so drastically…The TV is full of ads for virtual schools, online schools, you name it…listing certifications and degrees in things that sound made up. And then I have to consider if it’s worth taking the time out of the work force and spending the money to learn a new career that I might only be in for another 10-15 years…I’ve become obsolete! That’s what it is!
If I were a graduate student, I would write my thesis on this whole subject, this becoming obsolete, invisible, irrelevant…at age 50! I’m hoping I’m only halfway through my life (or thereabouts), and I’m going to have to come up with some kind of a plan for the remaining years that I have ahead of me. I’ll get started on that as soon as I’ve had my nap!