The Fear of Becoming Irrelevant

It’s rare that I haven’t met a woman with this fear, even if they don’t realize they hold it. I started to think about this when I realized that the number of doors held open for me began to wane, the attentive customer service at stores began to dwindle, and the less and less I was noticed out in public. I had started to become invisible.

To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if it bothered me or if it was just a new curiosity to ponder. I mean, truthfully (and so so so thankfully) the older I get, the less I care about all the things I thought were so important in my younger years. But it was clear that I had reached a certain point where I was either ready to meet all of those societal norms about beauty, age, and weight face-to-face and have my reckoning, or fall in line with billions of other women that think of aging as life’s biggest joke on us…and let the fear of becoming old sink in.

I purposely began watching women of all ages in whatever situation I happen to be in just to take notice of how the world treated them. No doubt about it; we live in a society that appreciates the young and beautiful. I took notice of this as a man walked right in front of me and held the door for a gorgeous young woman, then, rather than hold the door for me as well, turned his back to me and walked into the store and let the door close on me. I had to giggle. He never even saw me. Then I walked into that store and walked up to a sales attendant to ask for assistance. As I approached her, with my mouth opening to ask a question, she made eye contact with me, then walked right by me to that same gorgeous young woman, who wasn’t even looking for help by the way, and asked if she could be of assistance. Yep: it’s not just men, my friend…we ladies have that blinding disease as well. Hahahahaha (but, you know…not funny). Good times…good times.

I began to journal about aging, what it looked like for me, how I wanted to age, whether I wanted to participate or just let it happen. How far was I willing to go to slow the aging process? Was I willing at all?

The bigger question for me was this: what does it mean to become irrelevant?

For me, becoming irrelevant means:

— Letting go of what society tells me is so important for happiness, and putting in the work to figure out my own happiness.

— Being deeply grateful for the relationships that give me love, support, reciprocation, and joy, while recognizing the lack of worth in the encounters and relationships that do not.

— Defining beauty in my own way and on my own terms. My definition kicks ass, you guys.

— Being eternally humbled by all of the magnificent lessons I have learned in this life that have taught me empathy, love, and how to be of service to those in this life that need both of those things.

— Lastly, to understand on a deep level what a true gift it is to grow old, because with it comes a lifetime to figure all this shit out, all while gaining the rare wisdom to come to the conclusion that if becoming irrelevant means I get to participate in this list I just wrote, then I am one lucky old broad.

Here’s to becoming irrelevant! *clink clink*

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Elizabeth Craig

Photographer, Reiki Practitioner, wanderer, ponderer, lover of writing.