People often times say “you can’t get by on your good looks alone”, maybe their wrong. As I inch closer to the dreaded 40’s I find myself freaking out in a way I never expected. I’ve heard many people say they had that freak out as they turned 30, why I never understood. For me, 30 meant people would take me seriously and not dismiss me simply because I was a “baby” still.
Come to find out, here I’m nearing 40 and I’m still a baby to someone, such as the many boomers I must work with everyday who still dismiss my input. None-the-less, 40 is not cute, nor will it make me anymore credible in the eyes of my predecessors so there’s that.
I’ll be neither young nor old. If I wear trendy clothing I will appear to be trying too hard. If I wear granny attire I will seem older than I should. As a women, I would become irrelevant, especially sexually. I thought it ironic, because women including myself really don’t get comfortable in their skin until around my age. You really haven’t learned to utilize and appreciate your assets while you’re younger. I’m a highly passionate person, I can’t turn that off simply because that world thinks I should.
You’re are only as young as you feel has always been my motto. Yet, here I sit freaking out. To put it into context, I realize that I do feel very young. In fact, many people have no idea I’m approaching 40 because I’m very jovial. To be fair, even if I feel 25, I don’t want to be THAT lady wearing the daisy dukes and oblivious to being mocked.
I question why, why does it matter? I always knew this day would come, and with each decade I will continue to see changes as we all do organically. I should get used to this, since a very limited of our decades are spent getting as exciting as your 20s.
I was watching some discovery specials on animals and their instincts in practice through wild country. I was always amazed that most newborns were born ready to walk, among other abilities and yet humans weren’t. I’m not certain if any studies have been done on this, but it seems to me we do have survival abilities. Animal babies are born able to walk because they have to in order to survive. For humans, our ability to draw empathy is our ability to survive.
A baby’s cry is very annoying, for a reason. It should produce a reaction. More specifically, action. To take action to help the baby so the crying will cease. The survival technique is instinctual in order to gain help rather than run from a predator.
With that in mind, I often see memes on social media that read I don’t care how well your technical skills are, your people skills are everything, to paraphrase, and other similar anecdotes. I always think, you’ve got to be kidding me? Being a person who works in tight technical environments, I deal with tons of people who have social skills and no technical ability and they are the bane of my existence. I’m sure they are a value to someone, for me they translate into the dreaded college project where I get stuck doing everything & a shit team.
Folks will say “They don’t respect you” to give a presumptuous answer. I think it’s much more basic than that, people are lazy. I’m not very empathetic, so that’s not a factor here, you can’t force or charm people to perform, certainly it’s not sustainable. With people skills, they aren’t likely to suffer much damage if confronted by superiors, whereas for me, I would. I don’t have much charm despite my efforts.
This brings me back to getting old. If those I work with don’t take me anymore seriously, and I am not charming, & technical skills are apparently not as important as charm for most people, then what do I have left? Well, my appearance. To be fair, my appearance isn’t perfect, and certainly won’t get me far. Many times I have experienced being stereotyped many different ways depending on the perception of the people involved and never has it been accurate.
I know other people, more specifically women who have benefited with their looks and charm in tow. I can see why they would freak out, especially if they have nothing else to work with, such as technical skills. It occurred to me, like with the babies relying on surviving on the goodwill of others this is in part true for human beings at large. I suppose it would go without saying the same would be true throughout your entire life but in different capacities.
Therefore, you would rely on your instinctual ability to survive. Nature vs nature? Well, I am certain that some gender roles happened organically, others maybe not so much. Social changes, and all the factors that play into this are much more complex beyond cave man days. The instinct still persists, I believe that is what represents the midlife crisis.
Generally this is depicted as a man in a sports car, leaving his wife for a women the age of his college aged daughter. Now that women are more and more a part of the workforce the symptoms are very different. If she’s a mother, she may be feeling like servant, expected to give and be fulfilled with that. She may work, as well as parent, and yet have expectations for her career at this stage as well. Like any person with a sense of identity, her perception of herself may now come into question. No one at home appreciates her, she hasn’t shattered the glass ceiling, she’s burning out and finally, her appearance.
Male and females alike have a sense of individualism and level of empowerment in how they present themselves like any animal. More importantly, it’s the start of your charm. It speaks for you before you have a chance to, in my case, my charm doesn’t last long so my appearance better have something to it. However, like a baby who cries, appearance is a mechanism of survival, or at the very least resources. Those resources being different for each person, but fundamentally who will help you if you are sick, hurt or dying? More so, who will do so if you aren’t attractive or charming? Strangers are going to help a bitchy, ugly mooch? I think not.
Considering that men are fertile until their dying day, & women are not, it stands to reason that women are perceived to become invisible at a certain age. Not all women accept that, nor are they really irrelevant but you and I both know those middle age men aren’t running off with middle aged women, it’s their 20 something counter parts for various factors, ego, naiveness etc.
So while I strive for more, I realize with nearly no charm, tons of experience and now my fading youth, I have some rough days ahead. Will I get more help outside of work, no, apparently it will only decrease. Will I gain more visibility and support at work, no, not likely. Would anyone be more motived to care about me sick, dying, or even just out of kindness, no. Will all the efforts I invested get regoniztion, highly unlikely? What do I have, well, I have other people around me who are aging and they may stick around for the same fear, nothing better than that I suppose.
As a hard working person, I have to ask myself, how much am I willing to give knowing I won’t get it in return? I will never get it in return for all that I have done to this end. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s difficult to think that there’s a way to find peace in that.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take solace in how far we have advanced as a people in the 21st century…