The idea of invisibility keeps socking me in the nose lately. I just finished the book, “Calling Invisible Women” and found myself nodding my head over and over as the author described her declining visibility (both metaphorically and literally) within her family and career structures. It seems the more I bring this topic up with other women, the more I find that most of us feel it in one form or another after a certain age. I also find that just about any mother or woman in a committed relationship will say she’s felt it at some point.
The book got me wondering, though, about my responsibility to make myself seen – either through the things I do in the world or through the way I am in the world. I was always taught not to ask for what I wanted (lest I be considered selfish), not to draw attention to myself (lest I be seen as vain) and to always put the needs of my family before my own (though I’m not really sure of the reason behind that one).
The thing is, the women I most admire are not sitting back taking care of everybody else and letting the world pass them by. They’re out there actively making themselves seen in a million different ways! Writing books, coaching women, leading retreats, starting movements, doing things their own way and not caring one bit what anybody thinks!
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
~Nora Ephron (1941-2012)
Maybe that’s the hidden gift of middle-age… the courage we gain from time and experience gives us the freedom at last to start breaking the rules.