This post was inspired by a recent article by Marie A Bailey. In it she quotes her friend, Sarah, as saying, “…But now I’m invisible, and I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt…” Sometimes it does. But, more often, losing the perspective of how others see me, and how I have seen versions of myself, is more liberating than anything else. After a lifetime of mindfulness, I’m still practicing. Know what I mean? Our minds re-train, but remain on active duty. One glance into the mirror and my well-trained ‘sssh!’ can still be stealthily bypassed by the bully brigade, those thoughts that degrade, demean, and dismiss a body bearing the evidence of a lifetime of adventure.
My housemate participates in a weekly YouTube series, for which she, in her sixties, spends hours with blow dryer, spray, and cosmetic spackle, in order to look twenty-something, or something, on camera. I’m fairly impressed to admit it seems to work. As she says, “Video is forever.” So are we… but not in the ways we imagine we need to be.
Two years older than she, I don’t blow dry my fine, fragile, and abundant, hair. I own some foundation and a few other makeup items, but rarely wear more than mascara, only because my lashes, like my brows, are disappearing. I like being able to see my eyes, clearly. I don’t frame them for anyone else. I no longer need that kind of external validation. I have no more fucks to spare for how others perceive me.
Sure, I wish I looked…this way or that way, in a bathing suit. Or, do I? I can still swim, functionally, when I need or want to do so. And I DO NOT MISS being ogled like a plaything. If I want to play, it is on my own terms, and usually in and with nature, thanks.
As a shy, introverted, twenty-something, my body garnered its fair share of attention…Good? Bad? It depended on the day. Right? You know what I mean. And, there was pressure to look a certain way, be certain ways…and those ways were never me. So no one knew me. But I knew myself, and knew I was learning to become my very private held-close-to-the-heart dreams. I remember that girl. I love how hard she fought to stay her own course. Every battle contributed to winning a war...the one between my perception of me and whatever anyone else felt entitled to perceive.
As I read Marie’s piece, Finding Balance for 2021, my heart began to sing. Not a new song, but one well treasured. I get to be me and enjoy that without the distraction of others’ agendas. That is one of the gifts of advancing chronology. I choose me. And no one notices, unless I also choose to share.
As a friend recently said, “I no longer pull that kind of focus. And, it’s GREAT.” Invisible to most, means treasured in myself. Why, oh why, do we wait so long to find this?