While I don’t like to admit it, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older (and have embraced my gray hair) I’ve become invisible. In my younger life, I was never, ever an invisible person. Even when I felt then (unbeknownst to my then introverted self) that the crowds were getting a bit too much for me. Somehow I still stood out shall we say. My personality was somehow bigger than my small frame… even when I didn’t want it to be.
It was my big mouth I suppose: always standing up when I felt injustice was happening, or whispering an irreverence at inopportune moments. Or when I felt someone (preferably someone of authority) said something I felt stupid and needed to be put straight. Yep, I never held back, and usually got in trouble, bringing attention to myself and therefore was definitely not invisible.
Plus I was never, ever a follower. And in fact, usually a leader. Starting a trend maybe, like the first one to wear hot pants in my high school. To me, they were just cool. Or to bring cloth bags to the grocery store 40 years ago when everyone thought I was nuts. Or becoming a vegetarian about the same time because it simply made sense. And being the ‘class clown’ and ‘most inclined to argue’ also put me in the class of calling attention to myself–just like George Carlin so aptly said…Hey, look at me!
Did I need attention? I don’t know? I just know that I was an only child and loved school and my friends and loved to get into it with anyone who would participate in good debate or humor. Or I did some things simply because they made good sense to me and I believed they were right. It never occurred to me that not everyone felt the same way. In fact, it might be better if they didn’t.
So now that I’m 60, and suddenly a senior citizen–it seems so odd to say that because I still feel like a kid–and part of the class of people who most ignore. It feels crazy. Me, the person that most folks used to gather around and laugh with, or got yelled at, or who got sent to the principal’s office because I was so disruptive. Now I can’t even mange to worm my way into a conversation because it’s assumed I have nothing of value to say. It’s utterly amazing to me.
At least this is what I find among the folks where I work. It’s a mixed crowd of both young and middle aged…not too many my age. I’m in the hub where people come and go and I could just be a chair really. When they bring new people around, most times I don’t even get introduced. I find it rude really. The new gal that does my job in the evening is 27, pretty and has far more attention from folks (men and women mind you) fluttering around her in a couple of months than I do in nearly a year there.
Is it because our society doesn’t value age and wisdom? Certainly I have become less in need of the attention I once did. I’m more subdued and quiet and more observant. Maybe I don’t draw the attention any longer.
It’s quite interesting to watch the squabbles, the dances and cruelties. I’m proud to have joined the ranks of the wise ones actually. There’s humor sitting back while seeing those that make fools of themselves as I once did or listen to tales of woe and know how unimportant these things really are in the grand scheme of life.
I only hope I’ve taught my own daughters to treat their elders better than I am treated at work. And I hope I never acted in this way. We can certainly choose moments to be invisible, but no-one should make someone feel that way. We all have the same rights to be equally colorful, vibrant and brilliantly seen.