I’m a business owner and have thrived on business and marketing for over twenty years. But this past year, I started noticing something going on.
I’m not out and about. I’m not my normal me. (Yep, staying in place does crazy things to your life.) And though I love technology, I’ve noticed a lot of other people moving into spaces I once played. And they’re doing … great. Really good. Like scary-good.
And that’s left me feeling something I never have before. Irrelevance.
What’s more, I’ve done a lot of things I used to be good at. Social media. Advertising. Reaching out to network online. And sometimes it feels like a ghost town. Heellllllooooooo? Is anybody out there?
Now let’s throw in age. Hello, fifties. Where I once felt vibrant and alive, now all I feel is this hot mess of chaos. There’s so much to consider. So much to worry about. A business to run. Be a mom, wife, sister, friend. Be there for caregiving responsibilities. Thinking about the future.
Feeling lost. Feeling underappreciated. Feeling alone with no direction.
Yep, we all get there at some point.
It’s what you do with all of that chaos that matters most.
When you feel yourself in the muck, wondering what’s next, the question becomes:
Why am I feeling invisible and unimportant?
And as a follow up:
What’s it going to take for me to realize that I matter?
Invisibility – the lifelong journey
There are two paths: Falling into your life, and paving the path.
I lead the Gen X pack. I often feel like I fell into my life. I didn’t have role models. My grandmother had an eighth-grade education. My mother was denied a college education because she was “just going to get married anyway.” It was a sign of the times.
While women have been fighting to gain higher education for centuries, it wasn’t until the twentieth century where we made any headway. Yes, women started attending universities in record numbers by the early 1900s, but there were still only “acceptable” degrees for a woman.
Ivy League schools fought hard and long to avoid letting women into their institutions. Many didn’t open up and change their policies until the 1970s and 1980s.
We may be there now, but for us Gen Xers, a lot of this happened as we grew into it.
There weren’t any courses, counselors, or other guidance classes to help understand what was possible. I never even remember sitting down with a counselor in my high school. Instead, I muddled along, picking and choosing based on how other people viewed success.
And a lot of that came with a heavy male twist.
Sure, I learned to play well in a man’s world. But I often questioned why I had to play by those rules when they just didn’t seem to fit my lifestyle.
Sitting in those rooms meant learning – not being active. I often blended into the woodwork, listening, trying to piece it all together myself.
The invisibility kicked in early, as I reverted back to my “good girl” days where I was commended for being quiet, doing as I was told, and getting the work done.
I never thought much about it until several years ago, I was being interviewed on a podcast, and she talked about the “Good Girl Syndrome.” Wow – yes, that’s it! I still have my report cards to prove those words were pounded into me over and over and over again.
Women are people-pleasers. They say it’s part of the feminine. But is it more than that? Is it built in because we were taught that from an early age?
Stop being a people-pleaser
On the surface, being a people-pleaser sounds like an excellent way to get noticed. Raise your hand – yes! I’ll do that. You’re helping, surely they’ll notice?
Yet all that people-pleasing eventually digs a hole you can’t get out of. Will you run the bake sale? Yes. Will you organize the party for Friday night? Yes. Will you stop and pick up the groceries? Yes. Will you … The lists go on and on.
Eventually, you say no to yourself because there’s no time left. And if you can’t do things you want, you keep pushing them aside, in time, you feel like your needs just aren’t that important. Nobody notices anyway. Why bother?
There’s a big difference between people-pleasing and nurturing. The two are not the same.
People-pleasing is about saying yes, no matter what the cost.
Nurturing is about caring for and encouraging the growth and development of the ones you love.
Instead of saying yes, sometimes the best medicine is allowing your loved ones to figure it out without you … while you do what’s most important to you.
Check in with your own life
All that people-pleasing did one thing to your heart – it stopped your intuition. You no longer know what you want to do, because you haven’t had choices in so long.
So you live on autopilot. Go to the same job. Eat the same sad lunch every day. Scrolling through social media to see how everyone else lives. Take orders from those around you.
No! That’s not a way to live.
Remember when something was exciting? You dove in with gusto? Maybe it was a course in college. A hobby you picked up before things got crazy with the kids. Before life happened.
You can find it again.
Spread your wings a little. Look around.
Even if it’s just on social media, expand your network. Find a search word that excites you – rollerskating, ice fishing, traveling the world, painting, running a marathon – and plug it into the search bar on your favorite social media site. Look at all the things that come up! Join a group. Follow someone new. Live vicariously through them … for a while.
Because this only works if you TAKE ACTION yourself!
Say NO to something. Change your routine. Get up early. Disrupt your habit and make time for something new.
Who knows. At some point, you might stop scrolling through social media, and make a post of your own!
Say BYE-BYE to the ones holding you back
I’m just going to say it: Sometimes you have to say bye to the people currently in your life, to make room for somebody new.
A long time ago, I discovered “reason, season, lifetime relationships.” And I love that concept!
Don’t feel sad to let someone go. Maybe you’re with them for a reason, and that’s okay. Maybe they were with you for a bit – while your kids were in school, while you worked for a company, while you lived in a particular neighborhood. That’s okay.
And only on occasion do you find people who are with you through everything. Your best friend from kindergarten. Your mom. Your daughter.
You can choose each and every one of them. No one has to fall into one of the categories “just because.”
If they’re holding you back, it’s time to say bye-bye.
Do you need a boost to help you change your life?
My Self-Guided Journal Workbook for Personal Growth may be the perfect tool for you.
Find value in YOU as you travel through self-discovery to a NEW YOU!