Why is it that many women often feel invisible and irrelevant during our so-called prime?
We are wise, we are experienced, we have lived.
Yet when women hit mid-life, there’s often a shift in mentality, a crumbling of old beliefs. We often feel discarded, put to one side.
In my work as an embodiment and style expert, I see so many women approach peri-menopause and these feelings are exacerbated. We start to feel even more irrelevant; the things that once felt so much a part of our identities scattered by the wayside and this can bring a sense of loss and uncertainty. It can feel like we’ve lost our anchor and are being swept away by forces outside our control. There can be a growing sense of hiding from the external world, wondering if we will see and recognise ourselves again.
Doubt creeps in; in our bodies, in our self-worth, in our ability at work. I hear from women all the time saying that they feel overwhelmed by something they can’t put their finger on. Often we feel like we’ve lost a significant part of ourselves in this process; it’s like we’re scrambling around in the dark, wondering when the lights will come back on. Women can feel like they’re losing a significant part of themselves through mid-life and they want to get back to who they once were.
Our looks begin to change and for some this shift in external manifestation to the world can be troubling. If we look different, are we different? There has been much written about society’s expectations on looks. No-one sums it up for me better than Naomi Wolf, who describes the beauty myth as only existing to “prescribe behavior” and to “keep women small”, disarming us of our true identity. In short, we are much, much more than our looks.
For me, it’s important that we first understand who we are before we spend time worrying about how to ‘get back’ there. This process can feel like mining for gold. We have roles (mother, friend, wife, partner, daughter, colleague, carer) – but who are we? My advice is to take time to see who you are, what you have achieved, the irrevocable beauty in your life story. You are amazing, have travelled through a million dark nights of the soul, and are still standing.
With this understanding can come a great sense of liberation, about what can be possible in the second half of this show.
So, what do we do?
At this mid-life portal, it’s the perfect time to reframe and accept this wild terrain we find ourselves in. This is a true time of metamorphosis, a process of change and a doorway towards our evolution.
That’s why I’m renaming this period Midlife Meta. Embrace this time of change, this time when so much is happening under the surface. Think of these are the ‘fuck it’ years. Rather than why, think why not? The results can be something so exquisite and colourful. What will be possible when we all the full depth of this transformation?
This might seem daunting but this is YOUR show, and you can take charge of it. You are relevant. You are visible. You are still you. You are the ring master.
To overcome some of the fears, doubts and anxiety, re-orientating you to feel more you again is the remedy. Here are a few starters to get your juices flowing:
The antidote to feeling invisible is to start seeing yourself. Practice holding your gaze in the mirror. See yourself before you rush to the next thing, before you leave the house, or step into your next role. Look into your eyes, hands on body and call upon a time you felt confident, those moments when you exuded pride in who you were on a cellular level. Perhaps when you graduated, had your first child, stepped out in a lycra jumpsuit? Feel the corners of your mouth turn up and say “I see you… ”
Ask yourself - what feels liberating to you? What feels relevant to you? What feels relevant about the world? Write down 10 things that inspire you about you. Be daring, there’s freedom in breaking the mould. This could be as simple as untethering from a boring routine or understand who your inner circle really is. Take time to focus on these things, they will both help free your soul and ground you in your life.
Embrace your imperfections:
We are not perfect. We’re not meant to be perfect. Our quirks and our imperfections are what make us interesting and human. To quote Jennifer Coolidge in an interview about playing her troubled character Tanya in White Lotus, “I like to see flawed people because I can relate to them. When I’m watching someone very pulled together, line perfect, good at their job, very articulate, the screen glazes over for me because I can’t relate.” Find laugher in your so-called imperfections. Meet yourself in what’s real and aim to take up more space, not less.
We all live busy lives. We need financial stability. We have responsibility to our kids and elders which keeps us stretched to our limits. With all that ‘busy’, it’s easy to deny aspects of ourselves, our visions and dreams. Serving only the needs and expectations of those around us. Many of us fill up our diaries with not a minute to spare. Even ‘self care’ can feel like a task that needs to be completed. Within that over-extension and stretch can come burnout or, on the flipside, breakthrough. Try to resist the lure of being busy for the sake of it. Practice saying no to things. Take time for yourself to just be.
Own your own worth
Understand what makes you uniquely you. Own who you are and allow it to emanate from inner to outer. Take pride in your intelligence, love creativity, kindness and drive. Life can and will feel bold, scary, brilliant, magnetic and relevant- embrace it all.
In the meta with you