Invisibility Comes with Advantages

A good friend of mine, recently divorced, decided she would like, but did not necessarily need, a relationship.  Consequently, she decided to explore a number of dating services, both on and off line.

During her most recent adventure, she ended up at a dinner for eight men and eight women between the ages of 45 and 55. Although not an especially well organized event, she enjoyed the conversations with both the men and the women.  It was especially important for her to learn that the majority found her work to be fascinating – especially the men.  I’m guessing that meant they also found her to be fascinating – as they should, because she is. 

It was without a doubt a boost to her somewhat fragile confidence as she re-enters the singles scene. 

Upon reflection, her experience made me realize that even though I’m happily married, I’m not immune to this same vulnerability often experienced by women in their late 40’s and
50’s.

While it happens gradually and insidiously, it too often seems we become invisible as we age. In corporate settings, it is the men who typically seem to have it easier garnering more attention and credibility. In public, even the most attractive women no longer draw gazes. For women who have been defined by their physical beauty it seems especially hard. For others, like me, who knew they were never going to get by on their looks, it is perhaps not as traumatic. 

While I can’t speak for every woman over 50, and it’s never wise to generalize, there’s more of us to love – both figuratively and literally, and yes sometimes it might also be just heading a little bit more south than we’d like. Regardless, while there is loss to grieve, there is a lot to be said for being a woman in her 50’s that demands celebration.

For the most part, we know who we are but we remember where we’ve been. The best part of hitting the age of 50 is that we typically know what we like, what we don’t like, what we’re good at, and what we’re not good at. The advantage of experience as well as an understanding of our values and principles, contributes to wiser decision-making. 

This same understanding of who we are also tends to lend itself to authenticity.  That, in combination with knowing we’re often invisible, means we don’t care quite so much about what other people think of us. As a result, we don’t play games.  While some don’t quite know how to take that, others find it refreshing as well as effective.

While it may simply be the result of five decades of living, or perhaps the experiencing of raising our families, we also tend to be less judgmental, more patient, and more nurturing. That makes us excellent team builders. It also translates to a collaborative and consensus-building leadership style that might just be what the world needs now.

That same life experience also contributes to an understanding of the value of the journey. On a recent vacation, it occurred to me that I was enjoying the process of unwinding as much as getting to the actual destination of being unwound.  I think that means in our 50’s, we’ve typically gotten much better at being in the moment.  It also means we’re ready and desirous of wanting to make a difference as we embrace the idea that we’re past the midway mark in our own life journey. That home stretch makes one realize how important it is to pay it forward.

I for one never saw it coming, but it might just be that the 50’s could be the decade of happiness for women.  If that turns out to be true for even a small percentage of the boomers, look out world.

Posted on 12-11-10


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