Discover Yourself Over 50 & Thriving Series

5 ways to avoid the invisibility cloak in retirement

January 29, 2018

Why Women in Retirement feel invisible?

Why women in retirement feel invisible

Do you feel invisible? Often I read comments from women who feel that as they age they are becoming ‘invisible’.  I was reading an interesting article in Psychology Today about The Invisible Years and the fact that people are treated as invisible as they age because

We live in a youth-fixated culture where people are afraid to age and to be vulnerable to growing older; where ideals about attractiveness are oriented around those with young, healthy bodies. 

Now that doesn’t really sit well with being Over 50 & Thriving does it?

Why do we feel invisible?

As we age I believe some of us lose our self-confidence and aren’t sure of ‘our place in life’ anymore.  Whether you are an empty nester or career person who has retired, our self-confidence can take a hit when we feel we aren’t needed anymore.

Retirement can bring it’s challenges, I know I experienced the feeling of questioning my purpose when I retired.  However, retiring from work does not mean retiring from life.  We don’t have to fade into invisibility once we stop working full time.  We should be embracing the many opportunities that having more time affords us.

Here are 5 ways to avoid the invisibility cloak in retirement

1. Respect yourself and the person you are

Sure our bodies might be sagging and there may be a few laughter lines on our face, however we need to look past the superficial.  Make the time to go deep inside ourselves and honestly assess who we are as an individual.  We need to respect ourselves for the beautiful woman we are and acknowledge that we are unique and have value.  Learning to accept, respect and love yourself builds self-confidence and tells us that we have much to offer this world.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Becoming invisible can mean that we are not putting ourselves out there but rather accepting the notion that we ‘are too old’ – which is nonsense of our course.  Surrounding yourself with people of all ages who are positive and energetic will encourage you to be the same.  Positivity breeds positivity.

3. Be a Mentor

Recognise your strengths from your life experiences and share your wisdom with others.  If you are over 50 you would have had many work and life experiences so don’t take a back step to younger women and feel inadequate.  Become a mentor to them and encourage rather than fear them.  Be open to also learning from them and building relationships with people of all ages.

4. Keep Learning

Never stop learning or trying something new.  There are thousands of online short courses or hobbies that you can try.  Keeping your brain active is good not only for your mental health but learning or having interests also makes you an interesting person.

5. Learn to Give Back

It’s not all about you.  Giving back to the community by volunteering your time can be so rewarding and fulfilling.

One lady who I know doesn’t wear an ‘invisibility’ cloak is Debbie Harris from Deb’s World.  Deb is my next guest in the Over 50 & Thriving series and in her contribution Regaining Your Focus After 50, she discusses how easy it is to feel like we lose part of ourselves when we age but also what we can do to stop that from happening.

Have you been following the ‘Over 50 & Thriving Series? Click here to catch up on my previous guests in Over 50 & Thriving Series

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  • Reply Leslie Clingan January 29, 2018 at 03:48

    Keep learning and give back! Yes, yes, yes. My first year in retirement was spent trying to give back to my community. Have moved away from that some when I returned to working as a substitute librarian. That seems to have slowed down now so I need to find an new activity that will enable me to give back to my community. El Paso has been so good to me.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 29, 2018 at 09:53

      It is hard to give back when you are working Leslie but at least you have done it and I’m sure you will do more in the future. Hope your foot heals quickly xx

  • Reply Carol Cassara January 29, 2018 at 04:42

    I never understand this–presence depends on what we are doing in life. I never feel invisible, because I am active and engaged. And you are so right about giving back!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 29, 2018 at 09:52

      Hi Carol, I’m surprised myself that women feel this way and I know you – you could never be invisible! Have a great week! x

    • Reply Julie S Pit Stop Crew February 11, 2018 at 10:44

      Thats me too Carol, I never feel invisible, I never allow myself to forget that I matter. Too many of us adopt the “I am a Wife” I am a MOtehr” I am a nana” etc and forget WHO We are. I am Syl and I matter so I am a Beacon of light for myself and others. Powerful share to the #BloggersPitStop Sue 🙂

      • Reply Sue Loncaric February 12, 2018 at 09:59

        Thanks Julie and all power to you knowing who you are! It really is up to us to define ourselves and to not hide as we age but get out there and live life!

  • Reply Donna January 29, 2018 at 05:52

    Hi, Sue – There is much current research to confirm the vital importance of remaining connected and integrated in our communities…especially as we age. Your five tips are exceptional and make much sense. Your advice about being a mentor is very timely for me. I was just reading about one specific mentor program that is available for anyone interested. Thank you again for another inspiring post!

    • Reply Donna January 29, 2018 at 05:53

      • Reply Sue Loncaric January 29, 2018 at 09:51

        Thanks for this Donna I will check it out!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 29, 2018 at 09:52

      I was actually surprised that there are still some women who feel this way, Donna which is a shame. I hope my tips will help them feel more confident. Have a great week!

  • Reply Anna January 29, 2018 at 10:21

    I totally with you on this topic Sue, you need to find a way to stay connected and challenge yourself whether it is a new physical or mental activity, community involvement, learning new skills etc

  • Reply shirley corder January 30, 2018 at 03:40

    Hi Sue,
    When we first retired and moved to a new town, I found myself constantly being ignored in shops and yes, feeling invisible. Then I made a conscious effort to say, “No! I’m here. And my money is as good as the next one.” Just by changing my own attitude, I found people noticing me again. I think sometimes we bring on these feelings ourselves. Good post. #Thankful_Thursday

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 30, 2018 at 10:47

      You go girl! That is exactly how we should be and you are so right when saying that you changed your attitude and things changed. It really is up to us. Have a great week!

  • Reply Natalie January 31, 2018 at 06:05

    Hi Sue, very good tips! I’ve been active all my life, and have done what you shared in your tips. It’s up to us to make our life great, especially in retirement. YOLO 🙂

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 13:55

      Thanks Natalie they are pretty simple steps but sometimes we just need reminding 🙂

  • Reply Michele Morin January 31, 2018 at 06:48

    I’ve had a hint of this throughout the mothering years, because I have not been “employed,” although I always reassure people that I am well entertained.
    Thanks for pointing out the pitfalls while sharing the truth that we can be just as visible as we make up our minds to be!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 13:57

      It can happen to anyone Michele but yes I suppose not being in the workforce can sometimes limit exposure. I’m sure you have had a wonderful calling in life being a mother and nurturing our future. Have a beautiful day! xx

  • Reply Wendy | The Art of "Why Not?" January 31, 2018 at 08:37

    I was trying to decide which of these I agreed with the most, but it’s ALL of them, Sue! I think it is also important to continue to engage with folks in a wide variety of ages and life seasons. If we seldom put ourselves in situations where we are spending time with 20 and 30 year olds, we will have difficulty talking to them and relating to their experiences and concerns. If we can’t “see” them, we cannot expect them to “see” us.

    I admit I am a little nervous about all of this as I thinking about moving this summer. A new country, a new lifestyle, and not a single person I know — when I think past the excitement, it’s a little intimidating. I am going to have to work really hard on all the things you mention in this article, because I refuse to get there and suddenly become invisible in that city of 10 million people!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 13:58

      I know exactly how you must be feeling Wendy. I moved States 30 years ago and that was within my own country! I’m not very outgoing so it was difficult to meet new people. I’m sure you will be fine but you have a friend here in Brisbane, Australia you can chat to at any time. Thank you for supporting our new link up and hope you will link up again next week. xx

  • Reply Jennifer Jones January 31, 2018 at 08:44

    Surround yourself with positive people. This is so important. The negativity can be overwhelming. I do all I can these days to avoid it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 13:59

      I know what you mean Jennifer. Negative people can really bring you down. We all get down at times, we are human but that is especially the time you need those positive vibes around you. It is lovely to meet you and so pleased you linked up at the part and joined the FB group.

  • Reply Christie Hawkes January 31, 2018 at 09:00

    I am so glad that I started blogging before I retired. I’m making connections and learning things from all of you that will help me avoid some of the pitfalls of going into it unprepared mentally. I’m looking forward to Deb’s guest post.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 09:14

      Yes it was a steep learning curve for me Christie and I felt completely lost when I retired early. The blog saved me and of course by darling grandson. Glad you are enjoying the Thrive Series. xx

  • Reply Jo Tracey January 31, 2018 at 09:26

    I think invisibility or the perception of it is linked to having a purpose – any purpose. It surprises me when people don’t notice me – when they walk through you at the markets or don’t see you from the counter. That physical invisibility is something I haven’t got my head around. Ok, I’m short, but there’s plenty of me! Sometimes I wonder whether subconsciously I dwell on the “plenty of me” in order to be seen…now that’s one for another time & a lot of wine!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:02

      I always smile when I read your posts Jo. You could never be invisible with that gorgeous smile and wonderful personality. Have a great week! x

  • Reply Michele January 31, 2018 at 10:27

    I definitely felt invisible when I left my career as a professor. I didn’t retire, but started my own business. however, I work from home and don’t get out into the world and thus I often feel invisible. My confidence took a hit. Slowly, I am regaining it back. Your advice is so good. I just started mentoring young women at the beginning of their career and I really like it. I spend a lot of time reading and learning, so I always feel like I am growing.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:04

      I hear you Michele and felt completely lost after a few months into retirement. The hardest part is that even if we were confident in our working life we suddenly lose that confidence when we are no longer defined by our work. You would be great as a mentor and yes, never stop learning and growing is the key. Have a great week! x

  • Reply Dorothy January 31, 2018 at 11:31

    While I’m not retired, I certainly feel invisible when it comes to rejoining the workforce. It seems that once you hit 45 people see you as too old to be applying for basic admin jobs. Having worked in serious professional roles, I know I don’t want that any more, but nobody will give me a chance as a mature woman, thinking that I will step on people’s toes with my prior experience.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:08

      Yes that is a problem isn’t it Dorothy and yet people over 40 have so much experience and are sometimes much more reliable employees. It is hard to get prospective employers or recruiters to believe that you want to take a step down and still work but not as frantically as in a higher position. Have a great week and thanks for linking up with us! xx

  • Reply Leanne | January 31, 2018 at 11:42

    These are all great tips Sue – I find the best solution to this is to smile and radiate happiness. Everyone loves a happy person and if you approach life with a positive mindset and always have a smile then you are never invisible. We focus too much on the negatives of getting older – when we turn it around we become very visible and isn’t that great xx I’ve shared this on my social media #MLSTL <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:09

      You can’t beat a smile, Leanne. I’ve been trialling every time I walk past someone I smile. 90% of the time they smile back. ‘Radiating happiness’ I love that! x

  • Reply Susanne January 31, 2018 at 12:26

    I think as I have gotten older I have gotten more confident. It is very important to surround yourself with positive people and I think your spouse should be your greatest champion, if you have one 🙂 I continue to learn every day and I do worry about the day my boss retires because at the age of 50 it will be harder to find a new job. Great points!!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:11

      Totally agree Susanne and I’m very lucky that my husband is so supportive of all that I do. It is a problem that people feel they won’t be employed after a certain age because they have so much experience to give. I think there are now organisations working to encourage employers to look at more mature employees because of their experience and reliability. Thank you so much for linking up with us and have a beautiful day xx

  • Reply Teresa January 31, 2018 at 14:13

    I have heard my mother say that you get “invisible” as you age, but I haven’t felt that way yet and I hope I never do. I have always wanted to age with grace and accept each stage of my life for all it has to offer. Retirement could be and should be an exciting stage of life. As we are preparing for my husband to retire this summer I am filled with anticipation!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 14:31

      Hi Teresa you are about to enter a very exciting time of life – if your attitude is right. I struggled with early retirement but have now found my groove and wondered how I ever had time for work! I think I mentioned to you about being a guest for me. Let me know if you are keen. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Denyse January 31, 2018 at 17:40

    I must admit there are times I really enjoy being invisible because for decades I was recognised in my communities as a teacher or principal. I was even ‘found’ by a parent from my school who had her child with her when I was trying to buy a bra at David Jones and I heard “Oh look, there’s your principal darling.” Mmmm

    Since moving to a totally new to us community I have discovered the power of a smile to connect or a simple good morning. There are many people here who have relocated and whilst I do not want to join anything (yet) I acknowledge people in shops and almost 100% get a positive response.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 21:28

      Yes Denyse sometimes it is nice to be invisible but not when we are in the situation of not being appreciated. Like you I try to smile and say good morning and after the initial shock that someone has actually communicated with them, people respond positively. Have a great week and I know that challenges are ahead xx

  • Reply Jo Castro January 31, 2018 at 18:00

    Great tips Sue, and they are important. As we near retirement we read tips like this and I have been guilty of going, “yeah yeah yeah,” but as I speak and connect with more women who are reaching retirement age I realise how vitally important your advice here is. We have to actively engage not to let the really old, uncurious, unergetic woman in – which takes commitment and energy.

    • Reply Jo Castro January 31, 2018 at 18:02

      Oh Pinned too – great pin by the way!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 21:23

      Fortunately Jo, I don’t think you will have a problem. You are very active and give me the impression that you love life so I can’t see you falling into this category. Have a great week!

  • Reply Debbie January 31, 2018 at 21:05

    Hi Sue, another interesting and thought provoking post which has generated great discussions in the comment section. I always enjoy your posts Sue and you manage to offer great advice but realistic everyday help that we often need to be reminded about. Thanks for the reminder about my upcoming guest post!! Looking forward to reading it ?

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 21:25

      Hi Deb, I know life has been so difficult lately but you will pull through and be stronger for it. Yes I’m looking forward to promoting you and your blog and my love and thoughts are with you at this time. xx

  • Reply Amanda Nel January 31, 2018 at 21:07

    Hi Sue, I am not retired yet, but I can totally understand why some women feel that way! It’s a pity though…my mother is 80 years old and she is always too busy to come visit, and it’s not an excuse, she volunteers and cares for the ‘elderly’…I think it’s just a black hole you have to climb from.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric January 31, 2018 at 21:26

      You are so right Amanda and your mum sounds wonderful and such an inspiration to others. I hope I’m like that at 80 & Beyond! Thanks for visiting and have a great week! xx

  • Reply jodie filogomo February 1, 2018 at 04:42

    Such great words of wisdom, Sue!!
    It’s funny how my stepmom, thought these same thought at first, but has slowly found her calling with friends and her church.
    My mom has always enjoyed sewing and creating, but I think she’s enjoying the social aspect of the blog!!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 1, 2018 at 20:57

      We all have to find our own way, don’t we, Jodie? Both your Mum and StepMum seem such outgoing ladies and perhaps your website has helped them to be more confident within themselves. xx

  • Reply joanna elm February 1, 2018 at 04:45

    It’s so great to know that some issues are common to women across borders and continents, and that through social media and the internet we can all exchange ideas and commiserate together when we need to..I live in New York but was born in London, U.K. If I recall I found this site through a tweet from Deb’s World, then signed up to subscribe to this website.
    I hated the idea of retirement when it happened to me, and then decided to return to writing and to try to get a third book published, and I started my own website. I have also decided age is an advantage. Even though young things may think we are old fogies, we actually have lived through historic events that they have to learn or should be learning in school. The smarter young ones sometimes actually appreciate some of the life lessons we can pass onto them. Keep up the great content on this website.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 1, 2018 at 20:59

      Hello Joanna and it is lovely to meet you. Thank you for stopping by to leave a comment and I agree we have lived through a very exciting time with changes in technology and many other areas that young ones would take for granted. I do think that we should be role models and mentor younger ones because we have had the life experience. I wasn’t ready to retire now that I look back on it. I retired early to spend time with my husband who is 9 years older than me. However, having worked all my life I was at first very lost and without a purpose. Now I have settled and found my path through my blog and also volunteering and looking after my grandson each week. Life is full! x

  • Reply Cheryl Oreglia February 1, 2018 at 06:27

    I find myself wrestling with the idea of retirement, fearful of becoming invisible, and without a purpose. I teach high school and sometimes wonder if I’m too old to keep up yet realizing the students keep me young. Great post and wonderful ideas for flourishing. Thank you Sue.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 1, 2018 at 21:02

      Hi Cheryl, lovely to meet you and thanks for visiting. Retirement can be a scary prospect, especially if you have worked full time. I think the best way to approach it is to try to have a plan of what you would like to do. The days can be long but the challenge is to forge a new life which can be very exciting if our attitude is right. Have a great week! xx

  • Reply Jan Wild February 1, 2018 at 13:34

    This is a subject close to my heart. I think one can feel invisible at any age because everyone seems to be so pre-occupied these days – head down, eyes on mobile phone! I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with age, or rather that the feeling is more in the mind than in reality. It is up to each of us to project our energy into the world as we wish to and as Denyse says, in some cases it is nice to fly under the radar.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 2, 2018 at 17:34

      Hi Jan, sometimes I feel like just standing still and letting people looking at their mobile phones bump into me. The other night as we were running there was a girl actually reading a book as she was walking along!!! I do believe it is up to us to be involved and as you say ‘project our energy into the world’. Yes it is nice sometimes to fly under the radar but also we need to feel that we are still valued in society. Have a great weekend xx

  • Reply Mackenzie Glanville February 1, 2018 at 17:24

    I know when my dad retired he felt an extreme loss of identity on top of that he sold the family home and moved to a new area, it was all too much at once, especially given that he was pressured into a move he wasn’t ready for. It took him taking up tennis and meeting new people despite his anxiety in order to create a more meaningful life for himself. Great post!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 1, 2018 at 20:50

      Such a huge adjustment for your Dad, Mackenzie. It isn’t as easy as it sounds to retire and then adding a move to a new area can really put the pressure on. I’m so pleased he was able to overcome that feeling and put himself out there to meet other people and to be active in life. xx

  • Reply Linda Barnby | Friends Over Fifty Guide To Life February 1, 2018 at 20:47

    One day, years ago, I was having lunch with a person who is very special to me. The things we chatted about gave me a feeling of such joy and fulfillment that I felt overflowing with wonderful emotions. I got up to go to ladies room. Filled with wonderful thoughts from our conversation as I walked back to the table to rejoin my friend, I experienced the strangest phenomenon. Several people I passed looked up from their own conversations to look at me. It was as if I was a magnet. I vowed to remember how that felt and the cause of it. It was my own state of being – joy-filled and feeling magnanimous in that joy – that attracted others to me that afternoon. We truly are the makers of our own experiences in the world! Wonderful article!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 1, 2018 at 20:49

      What a beautiful experience Linda and I’m happy that you shared that with me. I really do think the way we feel determines how others see us. If we are feeling happy and confident then we are noticed. If we are down or feeling ‘inward’ then we are invisible. Thanks for stopping by to comment and it is lovely to connect with you .x

  • Reply Jill February 2, 2018 at 01:00

    Excellent post – really thought-provoking and some great advice. Love the idea of mentoring and surrounding yourself with positive people. I now avoid people who drain energy. .

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 2, 2018 at 17:30

      Hi Jill! Lovely of you to visit and leave me a comment. I agree about people who drain you it can be quite tiring can’t it? I also think that by mentoring we are showing our life experience and younger people really appreciate that. If you show you are interested then they will enjoy having you as part of everything. I worked with some younger girls (young enough to be my daughters) but they always included me even in things like Bootcamps and Fun Runs because they didn’t see me as an age, just an active person. Have a great weekend! xx

  • Reply Estelle Anderson February 2, 2018 at 07:22

    Thanks Sue for such a thoughtful post. Being treated as if you are invisible is earthshattering. You read about it, and you think it won’t happen to you. But I have experienced “little” remarks, and occasions of being spoken down to – which I didn’t experience before. I have to remember this is not all about me. It is a cultural thing. People embracing the youth culture & therefore at risk of being disrespectful to older people. We cannot be responsible for the actions of others. But we can have a voice. And we need to look after ourselves. Love ALL your tips . They are great ways of helping not only care for ourselves but vital in helping us remain confident so we can continue to live a vibrant & fulfilling life.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 2, 2018 at 17:28

      Hi Estelle and welcome! I admit I haven’t felt too invisible but as you say lately there have been a couple of times when I’ve thought to myself ‘hey, I’m here you know’! My husband and I were on a cruise last year and were waiting at the bar for 20 minutes! The bartender finally came over and then served a younger couple who had just walked up before us. My hubby certainly let fly and we made a complaint. If we don’t speak up then of course they are going to ignore us as we get older. Have a beautiful weekend and thanks for stopping by to comment xx

  • Reply sara February 3, 2018 at 11:15

    I think that each season in life we can feel invisible. Change happens. As little children, if we don’t find a playmate we feel invisible. Teens, if we’re not in a crowd we value, we feel invisible, especially when it comes to dating/crushing. College and work come along and being alone are common until we find our feet. As moms/dads again we experience moments of invisibility often wondering when Mom ends and Me begins. Finally, retirement or empty nesters, another change happens. Finding our footing again becomes necessary as I’m sure it will when we are closer to the end of our life on earth.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 4, 2018 at 07:51

      I agree with your thoughts Sara that each season of life we can feel invisible. I hadn’t really thought about it but reading your comment made me realise that invisibility can happen throughout life. Thanks for stopping by to comment and have beautiful day x

  • Reply Elise Ho February 6, 2018 at 07:33

    Invisibility is something we sometimes do to ourselves and sometimes others do to us. Either way it is definitely not right.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 6, 2018 at 13:11

      That is true Elise! Some people like to be invisible sometimes. I think the problem lies in feeling that you don’t matter anymore. Thanks for visiting and have a beautiful week! xx

  • Reply Kathleen - Bloggers Lifestyle February 7, 2018 at 18:05

    What a great subject, Sue and great comments as well. We should feature this post in our next Pit Stop. We love having you as a co-host 🙂

    I have been made to feel invisible in shops. Like totally ignored. A few years back I enquired the price of an item, the reply was, ‘more than you can afford.’ In a small dress shop I was ignored and walked around while all of the staff fussed over a young customer, so it does happen. Like you and others have said here, I think the secret is to show friendliness and confidence.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 9, 2018 at 07:21

      Oh thank you Kathleen and we certainly get a great variety on the Blogger’s Pit Stop. How rude of that shop assistant to reply to you that way, I know younger women wouldn’t accept that treatment but as we get older we do lose our confidence and also I don’t like confrontation. You certainly aren’t invisible Kathleen and are a wise and wonderful woman. Have a beautiful day! xx

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