Today I Give Myself Permission to Matter #atozchallenge

Letter MSelf esteem can be a fickle beast. Some have it then lose it, some don’t have it then find it, some never have it and some have an abundance of it. Yet others use the lack of it as an excuse for all that is not right with their world.

We are all at different points in the spectrum.  We will also be at differing points during the course of our lives. Traditionally, middle age is associated with a dip in self esteem. It is said that this is the time when women enter the invisible stage. But I’m not buying it. I may yet be proven wrong, but for now, I refuse to don the cloak of invisibility. I refuse to accept that I no longer matter.

A couple of months ago there was a great article in one of our Sunday supplements about a 46 year old women who recounted her recent experiences with dating. She had four children and told the story of how she had no shortage of dates. In fact she had dated approximately six men in the last four months and put it down to an inner confidence and not shying away from  opportunities to meet people. In the article she lamented that in the media there were a lot more stories of women at that age bemoaning the passing of youth and complaining of feeling invisible. She is right. In preparing for this Challenge, I looked for material in our mainstream media which painted middle age in a positive light. I wanted to be inspired by stories of women who had found themselves at this age, changed an unhappy direction or otherwise took control of their lives. Apparently, this does not sell newspapers.

So what sort of message are we sending middle-aged women? With the push into fifty and the change in demographic, apparently our spending power doesn’t matter, at least not to advertisers. Our looks clearly don’t matter, unless they are used to compare or contrast with youth.

The fact of the matter is (no pun intended) we all matter. And the main person to whom we should matter is ourselves.  Hubris is never attractive and that’s not what I’m advocating. Rather,  to be aware of the small and subtle things we do everyday that diminishes our needs in our own eyes.

Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in particular the top three. How many of us inadvertently sabotage our chance at meeting the top three? For example:

Maslow's heirachy of needs

Belong and love needs: Do you always put your needs last? Do they matter less to you than other people’s needs? Do you matter less to you than other people? You should be on par, for we were created all equal.

Esteem needs: When someone pays you a compliment for something you did, do you belittle your achievement by making a flip comment or by saying “it was nothing”?

Self actualisation: Do you seek fulfillment and growth or do you belive this is all there is and you have to settle?

I’ve done all of these at various times, but no more. I’ve gone from if you mind, I don’t matter to if you mind, I still matter. Humility is important, but too much of it and it can diminish.

And the last word on mind and matter goes to Mark Twain:

mark twain mind and matter

Mr Twain I couldn’t have said it better myself! So forty is not the new thirty and fifty is not the new forty. It just doesn’t matter. What matters more is the way we see ourselves.

What matters most to you?

Today I give myself permission to matter.

 

 

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

22 thoughts on “Today I Give Myself Permission to Matter #atozchallenge

  1. Respect, acknowledgment for a job well done, love, friendship. I guess I have settled – I do feel a little invisible at times but I think that is my own doing. Another excellent post. x

    • Thanks Jen. I wonder how many of us feel invisible from our own doing and whether we are actually making a conscious choice to be in that state. There is some comfort to be had for “sailing under the radar”.

  2. What matters is the love she or he – the one who matters to you – has for you, her/his deep feelings for you, appearance or age are nothing… 😉

  3. I agree that there’s a tendency to bottle up and shelf a woman after a certain age, but I think that is becoming less of a response with more women proving their worth as movers and shakers. At least I hope it is. And I agree when you say: “We will also be at differing points during the course of our lives.” Our self-esteem can take a hit when we try new things, especially if we fail.

    • I think you’re right, there are more middle age movers and shakers now. We are living longer and people are slowly coming round to making the most of the half a life they have left. I just wish it was the rule rather than the exception to find positive, middle aged and older role models. I can think of a few great ones here on WordPress and they continue to deliver the lessons I need through their posts.

  4. Being true to myself and being healthy are what matter. Even in the midst of an admittedly less than ideal life situation, I have never been more empowered in my life.

  5. enthusiasm matters – if a woman is interested in a variety of subjects it’s reflected in her confidence. this is true of everyone of course. The biggest insult I can hurl at a person is that they’re boring!

  6. I matter because I make sure my family, with whom I live, don’t take me for granted. This means repeating myself and sometimes I feel like a shrew but I matter, so I speak UP when I need to.

  7. I find that as I creep closer to 40 (had a near anxiety attack realizing that I was closer to 40 than to 30 on my last birthday!), I get more depressed. I never cared about age or birthdays, but now I am feeling more anxious about them. I know exactly what it stems from: this notion that I haven’t accomplished all that I wanted to by this time and that I can feel the time slipping away.

    The only thing that gets me over this hump is calling to mind all the wonderful things I have: beautiful and smart children, a handsome hubby that adores me, great friends, a steady income, a solid faith, and my health. None of those things were easily won and none of them are an inconsequential footnote in my life. If I were to die tomorrow, you could say I had a full and blessed life. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. 🙂

    ~Lynn

    • Thanks for this heartfelt comment, Lynn. I admit to having anxiety at turning 40. By 40 and 6 months, it had all gone as I had much to get on with. You have achieved much and will, no doubt, achieve so much more – this takes me back to my Challenge post for the letter A about acknowledging achievements. I think if we acknowledge that, it gives us some peace and a more solid platform to build on. I’m taking that with me as I make the move towards turning 50.

  8. I have recently seen a cartoon version of the hierarchy needs – associating each level except the bottom one with a different social network. WordPress was at the top of the pyramid 🙂 Though the idea was making fun of the power social medai have gained over our lives – I think it might be true in some sense: Blogging helps us to discover who we really are and why we matter!

    • I also say a cartoon of the heirachy with “internet” at the bottom of the base. The rest was the same. Blogging does help, because it’s a great way of organizing ones thoughts and making them come alive. If they are recorded, they must be real, right?

  9. I’m closer to 70 now than I am to 60. I do feel invisible sometimes. Sometimes I want invisibility. I also have the time and freedom to do pretty much as I like. My needs are few. My health is good. I can research and blog all day and half the night if I want to.

    • If invisibility is something you want and you choose it consiously, then that’s a positive.I think it’s up to all of us who chose not to be to try and change perceptions that a women after a certain age is of lesser importance. We have much to contribute.

  10. Judy, great post. I think we spend too much time on appearance and not enough on substance. Women are bombarded with looking younger. As someone from the opposite gender with a little over half a century behind me, I am more interested in people who care more about who they are than what they look like. They showed a picture of Kate Moss today with and without make up and to be honest, I was more attracted to the more natural looking Kate out in the real world, rather than the overly dolled up one. Why? The natural look seemed real to me, like a real person. Well, this is one bloke’s opinion for what it is worth. BTG

    • I am always interested in this one bloke’s opinion and I agree. Natural is better. I have never been one for makeup or preening. It’s always been about who you are as a person, not your appearance or station life, occupation or material goods. I have never agreed with pigeon holeing. We should also stand or dall on our merits, not on the perceptions of a group to which we may belong.

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