Do you let light shine upon your midlife self or do you hide it under a bushel?
Midlife women have a tendency to self-censor their views and thoughts. I cannot back this statement up with any scientific fact but only with anecdotal experience. I have many times observed older women simply lack the confidence to speak up whether in a formal or informal setting. I am guilty of this too from time to time.
Recently I was at a networking event with women of all ages. I didn’t know most of them and noted that many were no where near being midlife. Instead of leaning in, as I often tend to do, I leaned out by sitting at a table on the side of the room with ‘safe company’ i.e a few women whom I knew.
Analysing myself afterwards, I came to the conclusion that I had internalised the bias against older women. In other words, I didn’t think that a younger cohort would be interested in me. What would they have in common with me, I wondered, given the different world in which they have grown up in?
The Generational Dream
The world for younger women is far more full of possibilities and opportunities than I had. I was expected to live the generational dream of going to university, getting a good degree, getting married, buying a house and having children. Younger women are expected to be CEOs and run start up techs with one hand tied behind their backs.
In my day, there were no real role models of ordinary everyday older women busting barriers or kicking the patriarchy to hell and back.
As older women, many of us grew up with this pipe dream expectation. Somehow our lives were expected to plateau at some stage. Ironically, this stage was meant to be a golden one and was seen as an achievement in itself. We had done our life’s work and it was time to slow down. Baking and gardening (much as I enjoy doing these) were seen as the mainstay of the plateau stage.
The Reinvention of Midlife
Fast forward to current times. The midlife is being reinvented. Even celebrities are clamouring to show off their midlife status. Invisibility still abounds, of course, because long held biases are hard to break. But there is a huge change taking place. Numerous articles give us ideas and encouragement about how to live our midlife. Some of these do include gardening and baking, as in my case too, but there is a lot more on offer. As a personal example, I currently have a job which was traditionally seen as something which younger people did due to the long working hours needed. I do it and I do it successfully. Age hasn’t been a barrier.
Time to Change
Seize the midlife bull by its horns and upscale your midlife. Go for that promotion, change your career and pour forth your views via social media. Think of the years of wisdom accumulated. Think of the work experience, skills and knowledge gained over the decades. Take the plunge and live your midlife.
Let the light shine brightly on you. Step into the spotlight of your midlife self.
Personally, I am not leaning out anymore and am learning to get rid of the internalised bias against older women. Join me.
P/S: I am aware that the fibre lit tree in the photo looks like it is growing out of my head. Ha ha. My positive take is to say that it is growing out of my fertile midlife brain. How’s that for a positive spin?