By Susan "Honey" Good
The authorities say that 50 is the new 40, 60 the new 50 and 70 the new 60. That statement should give us faith to continue to embrace our opportunities. I feel we should continue to explore possibilities, celebrate new discoveries and try and remove the word ‘decline’ from our vocabularies. In other words, dear readers of mine, own your age and design your life so that you do not feel invisible.
Unfortunately, as we age, many of us have not figured out a solution to what can become a serious problem... How to continue to ‘feel’ visible after a certain age? Because the truth is, dear readers of mine, 50 is 50, 60 is 60 and 70 is 70.
I have girlfriends who continue to excel to the heights. A past mayor and judge, a woman who runs a women's group on current events, grandmothers, wives and moms who dote on their families, friends who take courses in language, help the sick and the poor with their dedicated time, and own businesses.
And yet, I hear several of my accomplished friends tell me, "I feel invisible.” When I heard this the first time, I was shocked. The word invisible was not in my vocabulary. Listening to them exchange their views, I thought to myself, "My only connection to the word, invisible, is Casper the Ghost.”
The word invisible means unable to feel seen. That these women felt invisible was a shocking revelation and hit me square in the face. I pondered on the word ‘invisible” for a few weeks.
I would walk into the shoe department and wonder for the first time in my life, "Will the salesperson approach me or the younger woman?" She approached me.
I would walk into a restaurant with my husband, Sheldon Good, and ask myself, “Do I feel invisible?” I would answer to myself, “No!” Or, I would sit with couples or girlfriends and ask myself, “Do they see me as an invisible woman?” I answered, “No.” And, there is a reason for my positive answers that may come across to you as bragging. I am not. In reality the answers have to do with my ability to build a life for myself.
Days and weeks went by and I became crazed over the word invisible, finally approaching one of my girlfriends. I mentioned to her, “I think I might want to put together a group of our friends and discuss aging. Our friends need to talk to one another. What do you think?" She liked the idea. And I did put together a group. And we talked. And I learned. This is what I discovered…
There are several explanations why women begin to ‘feel invisible’ as they age over 50.
Their children have left the nest and have families of their own, retirement age has approached and they no longer feel relevant, they have older husbands, they are now widowed or divorced, they don’t have a circle of women friends to share their story and the list goes on. And then there is that blinding universal reason... women feel invisible because they are aging. They no longer ‘look young.’ They realize that they are no longer noticed as they walk down the street or enter a restaurant where beautiful young maidens strut their stuff. They realize when they are alone in a fitting room the mirror can’t hide the change in their bodies. Aging is hard…if you allow it to be.
It has been almost one year since the word invisible entered my thoughts; all because of a conversation. I am glad it did because it opened my mind to the positive word that I am now focused on… VISIBLE. It made me ask myself, "What is next?" The answer: "The continuous pursuit of inner happiness.”
In my mind, age does not equal decline. It offers opportunity. Children are married and settled, grands are progressing in their lives, many women are retired and have time to smell the roses, many have reached financial freedom, and most are mentally and physically healthy.
You have TIME, dear readers of mine, to design the rest of your life. This takes courage. Don’t resist it. Don’t fear it. Go out there and do it because I can promise you from my personal experiences, that you will throw out the word invisible and replace it with the word visible. You want to live a life style after 50 that is relevant to your changing world. You want to transition into something that gives you joy. All you have to do is…open the door.
If you do this, you will walk down every street knowing that you are beautiful because you are proud of whom you are. You will recognize that your older body is different and you will be glad it is healthy. You will walk into a restaurant like you own it and thank God you have the opportunity to live your next several years as a relevant woman.
By the way, I just finished a two day seminar on learning the skills of how to become a good negotiator. I could have been everyone’s grandmother. I felt 100% visible, dear readers. Why? Because I am! I am smiling.
You can feel visible, too. The ball is in your court. I am smiling again… this time for you!
Do you feel visible or invisible? I want to hear -- and connect with you -- about your thoughts on this topic! I'm posing this poignant question on my Facebook page today. Please head on over and join the conversation. Your opinion matters!