Flourishing in the NEXT season A Season Of Discovering What's Next
by Paula Masters
Aging and invisibility...is it true? I was considering the question. The prospect that there is a certain type of inconspicuousness that comes with aging used to bother me when I was young. Although, I was mentally prepared; my mother having told me that it happens. Soon enough I began to see the shift in life all around me as my own years advanced. I observed peers being replaced in the work place; long time actors from favorite shows losing roles to the younger ones; older ministers being demoted to make room youthful ones. Although it didn't catch me off guard, I could not help but notice this natural cycle of invisibility that had been explained to me earlier.
I noticed one of the biggest difficulties seemed to be in the area of fading beauty. And it's easy to spot those who struggle because they are often the ones who try the hardest to stay seen. Unfortunately, this can produce a negative visibility. Youthful styles that once looked amazing can look quite “off” in this season of life. Heavy makeup and bright hair colors that looked fun and fantastic when younger might appear way overdone. In an effort to find flattering mature styles I began researching several over-fifty women on social media fashion. I couldn't help notice a few standouts that really came into this season of life embracing clothes and appearance that complimented the wonderful mature years. I noticed styles were reflective of personalities rather than youthful beauty, and somehow it made them look vibrant and alive, and oddly, caused them to stand out.
It can be a difficult season of adjusting to the change and the natural invisibility that comes with aging. But by the same token, I found that there were discoveries to be made; beauty hidden in the Invisibility. It's a great time be off the clock, so to speak, in the world of competition. Somehow when youthful beauty, productivity, and ambition is dialed down other things have the opportunity to emerge--like genuine-ness, openness, depth, etc. The freedom to be who you are on the inside rather than the outside flows. There is a loosening of the grip on the superficial things which paves the way for rich and meaningful thoughts, conversations and focus. It truly becomes a season to stop and smell the flowers. Strange when you think about it...the dawning of the alleged invisibility that comes with aging ushers in a new kind of visibility, one of even greater beauty.
Here are some other advantages of invisibility that I observed:
1. No longer a threat. Interestingly, young women have a natural guard up towards each other, a wall that does not allow for deeper connections. Over fifty women embrace easily and walls come down in the female population...welcome mats are found where there once were none.
2. Freedom to speak up. When we were young we often felt intimidated to speak up on issues that matter. Now that naivety has gone behind us along with our youth, we are more apt to put ourselves out there. Younger women are drawn to older women's life experiences.
3. Peace in social settings. The ease of entering a room or a function becomes a peaceful experience where we can move about freely without feeling obligated to be the center of attention. No one's keeping track--WOOHOO!
4. An observer of life. With less expectations comes the freedom to watch life with depth and interest. The world becomes a canvas where we can paint our observations in different colors and textures.
5. No need to keep up with the Jones. There is no expectations on people over fifty to keep up the stressful momentum to keep building and collecting. On the contrary, there is a general acceptance that this season is a time of downsizing and simplifying. The pressure is off! We can relax and have fun!
So there you have it--a certain invisibility certainly may be present during this season, but the pro's exceed the con's. And maybe--just maybe some things are better off fading into the background so that other areas of life might have an opportunity to flourish. In fact, over the age of 50 is a perfect time to discover the things in life that are truly meaningful.