I've made the transition.
It wasn't easy because I really enjoy attention.
But somewhere mid-life, I had to adjust.
You know what I'm talking about, don't you? The disappearing act that comes over us in middle age.
Initially, there was a creeping invisibility exaggerated by the presence of my super-model beautiful daughter.
I noticed that when we were in public together, I became virtually invisible. I promise you, I could have committed crimes in her presence and bystanders would have said, "Well, there may have been another person with her - some older lady - but we just noticed the tall, leggy brunette with the amazing eyes."
Back then, my ego took an understandable hit.
A boy in a drive-thru window once caught sight of Hannah in my passenger seat and crushed her iced coffee- splattering it all over me. Then, he apologized profusely to her as he tossed me a single napkin.
Another time, a waiter refilled her water glass so often you'd have thought we were dining on the Sahara while my glass stood empty throughout our meal. (Invisible people don't require refills.)
At the checkout counter at the drugstore, a clerk focused entirely on her throughout the transaction, where she stood beside me, as I handed over my purchases and my cash. When he failed to hand me my bag, I cleared my throat. He looked at me, startled, as though I was rudely interrupting. He apparently hadn't noticed my presence until that moment.
A woman could be crushed by such assaults on her self-esteem.
But, before long, I saw the freedom in it. I decided it could be an advantage. Because, while every day, I look more and more like someone you might discount, write off, or ignore
inside, I am still the bright, capable, skilled person I always have been - only now with years of confidence and experience.
I learned that I like being underestimated.
It worked for me when I started karate at age 40. I may not have had the agility and speed of some of my younger classmates but you couldn't beat me for mental strategy and knowing how to maximize my assets.
At 44, getting ready to test for my black belt, I had to spar a much younger woman and heard her giggling to a friend that this would be "cake." I decided to use that in my favor. As we bowed, I asked her to please take it easy on me since my skills would obviously be inferior to hers.
She never even saw my first kick coming.
I won the round and the match - I believe, before she even entered the ring - all because she'd underestimated me.
I liked that. I wanted more.
That's when I realized invisibility could be repurposed into incognito - and that's fun.
Plus, it's only fair. After decades of suffering under other people's expectations, surprising people with lower expectations is a thrill ride!
Now in my fifties, the more I look my age, the more I revel in the freedom this earns me. The freedom to be unexpected. The freedom to surprise. The freedom to catch others off guard. The freedom to become "a character."
One of the teens with whom I work recently said to me, "Sometimes I feel sad that other teens look at you and just see an older lady and they miss out on how cool you are. But then I feel special that you let me in on your secret."
Oh yeah, I make it work for me.
How about you? Are you ready to go incognito? Don't fade away - just go undercover and rediscover fun.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians continually late for dinner. She authors the blog, Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island . Lori’s seeking a publisher for her speculative Celtic adventure, The Overcomers. Back in the dark ages, Lori earned degrees in Psychology and Biblical Studies and more recently, a black belt in karate. She’s a wife, mom, crisis counselor, and part-time dragon slayer.