I Find Freedom in the Invisibility of Middle Age

I find freedom in the invisibility of middle age

Inside: this is a guest post from Jessicauys.com. in which she invites us into an exploration of the invisibility of middle age and extricating ourselves and our worth from how others see us.

The face staring back at me looks somewhat familiar. I notice the lines joining nose to cheek and the expression of focus, or anger, that furrows its way between the thinning brow. The body is soft, somewhat defeated, as if the muscles have finally tired of holding it together all this time.

As I walk through the airport, I feel unseen. No undisguised glances from the man sipping his coffee at the counter. No nods of recognition as we wait in the queue. I feel as if my presence here, or anywhere, is somewhat irrelevant. I blend into the hustling crowd, unnoticed, anonymous, unsure of how to navigate this new terrain.

I wasn’t prepared for this feeling. I imagined myself growing old with ease and grace. I pictured a grey-speckled head with the encouraging smile brought upon by wisdom and comfort. A knowledge that all is well and life is good.

I wasn’t prepared for this sensation. I hadn’t anticipated the fading of my face as a precursor to the fading of my fire. And as much as I tried to reassure myself of my experience and my worth, it felt as if it wasn’t just the mirror that was evaluating and assessing my relevance, but the people around me. The more I blended in, the more bland I felt. The less visible, the less valuable.

I find myself looking back to a previous version of self. The same woman, younger, again walking through the airport. She holds her head tilted upward, conscious of the appreciation she’s inviting. She confidently accepts help with her bag. And she knows with certainty he’s excited to see her again this evening.

As my skin-deep beauty fades in the eyes of the world around me, I feel as if I’m shedding a skin that I thought I would mourn, only to find that the layer underneath is much more comfortable.

Amy Simpson

As I sit in this coffee shop, my laptop keys frantically absorbing my scattered thoughts, I notice the young women around me. They’re discussing their hair. They’re wondering what he thinks. Their discussions are freckled with uncertainty, scanning each other for signals of approval.

I see some women walk into the yoga studio, their long hair carefully groomed to look effortless. I notice the hesitance and the doubt. As if here too, an opportunity to find acceptance. To shine. To prove worth.

Yes I see them. They are visible. Gloriously visible. I see the beauty and radiance and sex appeal, yet I all I feel is a hunger. A hunger for approval and a craving for enoughness.

I return to my former self and I see a different truth. I see the constant comparisons to others, the self conscious and doubting assessment of self. I notice her judgment of worth is determined less by how aligned she feels with her inner needs and more about how she is received by others. I notice her sensuality is based less on the way she feels about herself and more on the desire she provokes in a man. I feel her yearning for affirmation.

I take a sip of my coffee and feel the exhale.

I find freedom in the invisibility of middle age.


Perhaps no one has noticed me sitting here. Perhaps I blend into the screed floors, solid and unrefined. And I realise at last how good this feels. The invisibility brings relief.

I feel solid and secure. My sense of self, firm. My strength comes from the conviction of my mind and the courage of my heart. I know what it feels like to lose myself just as I know what it feels to finally align my way back home.

My presence needs no proof and my substance no support. I am worthy because I exist. My thoughts mean something because I’m brave enough to share them. My presence here is important because I own  my contribution and my stories will always matter.

I walk through the airport and keep to myself. She doesn’t admire me. He doesn’t desire me. I am invisible and I am visible and with that, I am free.

I find freedom in the invisibility of middle age.

Jessica Uys

Jessica is a Coach and Facilitator who helps people wake up to their true selves so they can live lives of greater intent and joy. Jessica works intuitively, integrating her business experience alongside her work as an Enneagram Coach, BodyTalk Practitioner, Eating Psychology Coach and Breathwork Practitioner. Connect with her at jessicauys.comon Facebook and on Instagram.

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5 comments on “I Find Freedom in the Invisibility of Middle Age

  1. She echoes my thoughts precisely and eloquently. I’m not at the place of acceptance yet, but I am working on it. It feels more difficult as a single 57 year old woman who is looking to meet someone. Or maybe that is an excuse?

    • Hi Cheryl, thank you for your comment. Not having been in this situation, I can only offer what I *think* is true for us at every age: when we are honest and comfortable in our own skin, and when we embrace who we are, we are more likely to meet people who also love and respect the real us. I’m a people watcher and it seems to me that for those of us with eyes to see, we notice that some people shine (again, people of various ages and seasons of life). These people emanate joy or peace or vibrancy. I’m guessing this attracts the right friends and interesting acquaintances, and love. But I’d love to hear Jessica’s thoughts:)

      • Hi Cheryl. I believe the same can be true at any age. It’s certainly not to say we don’t wish to feel attractive. It’s more that we don’t depend on it for our sense of self, or for our worthiness in attracting a partner. I agree with Krista in that radiance and joy become the greatest attractors of all (my mother always told me people are attracted to happiness, so I suppose she had a point!) For me this has been a very gradual shift. I notice it in small ways…the way I feel less self-conscious when meeting new people, the way I feel focused more on the task at hand than the people who may be observing me, the way I feel less of a need to be seen than to be listened to…

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