This is such an amazing time to be a midlifer.
You might of heard the phrase “this ain’t your mama’s midlife” and girl, I’m here to tell you that this is so true! Whereas our parents might have been considering retirement and slowing down in their 50s and beyond, today so many women feel like they are just getting started. They are “coming out of the closet” so to speak after decades of childrearing or working for the man and they are declaring loudly that it is their season now. They are battering down the walls of one of the last “‘isms” – ageism – and they are choosing to reinvent – be that their bodies, their careers, their relationships – or all three!
Almost every day in my worldwide ROCKING MIDLIFE group, I am in equal parts astonished and wowed when I read the profiles of the women who join. I rarely see “retired,” (not that there is anything wrong with that mind!) instead, I see equal amounts of on fire, purposeful women and wanna-be on fire purposeful women, looking for the know how, the courage and the support to help them reinvent. I see women who have faced – or are in the midst of facing – some of life’s toughest trials, yet they are still choosing to embrace life and be the best person they can.
So what does this have to do with vulnerability?
Ironically, in order to make a difference, to truly stand out in the world, instead of putting on the armour and ones “best face,” there is a groundswell happening – particularly on social media (the home of the fake and filtered) – for women to show their true selves. To be open, honest and vulnerable about their shortcomings. To share their trials so that others may be encouraged and to even reveal how we really look.
I know!! Such a shocking concept right??
Let’s face it – how many of us are exhausted from being intimidated and feeling like we never meet the mark compared to the insta -famous perfect homes / families / bodies / stylish people out there? How many of us want to truly ROCK our own lives and make a difference to those around us but are paralysed by the lack of self worth that comes with feeling like we aren’t quite “meeting the mark” compared to others out there?
Theodore Roosevelt famously said:
“Comparison is the thief of joy”
Yet comparing ourselves to others has become such an automatic act in this day and age. It used to be just magazines, but now we are bombarded everywhere from social media to Netflix – and it’s not just our bodies….
Are we stylish enough? Minimalist enough? Eco-friendly enough? Diet-conscious enough? Hip enough? Wrinkle free enough? Silver haired and “on vogue” enough? Yes, even at midlife there is plenty to compare ourselves to!
Are we rich enough? Socially conscious enough? Successful enough? Popular enough? Talented enough? Are our offspring successful / beautiful / wealthy / up and coming enough???
Sheesh! Enough with the enoughs!!
I wrote a piece just last week for the sisters over at Forever Fierce who are running a wonderful campaign called #shieldsdown – all about how we women need to lay down the shield that we are hiding behind and reveal our true selves at midlife. It proved to be one of the hardest things I have ever written. I mean seriously – the resistance! I likened it to writer’s block on steroids as I agonised how to answer the questions for weeks on end. Would I appear “real ” enough? “Humble” enough? “Honest” enough? Even when writing a post to reveal the real and vulnerable me – I was worrying about if I would “make the grade” compared to the other incredible women that would also be featured! In the end it took a deadline and a decent glass (or two) of wine to help me get a response over the line, but the very act of completing that article reminded me yet again that oftentimes, our most powerful message comes from a place of vulnerability. When we lay down our armour and reveal our insecure, quaking inner little girl-like souls to the world, we enable other women to exclaim ” oh my gosh – you too? I thought I was the only one who felt like that!”
Empowered by actually completing that article, I decided to go one step further. The very next day, I experienced an amazing facial, (thank you Caci Clinic! I should add too that even though I am in my 50s, you can count the amount of facials I have experienced in my life on one hand!) I arrived home sans makeup, feeling a bit blissed out and decided to snap a selfie. A selfie that showed the real me, no filter, freckles, frizzy hair and all. A selfie that needs me to throw my shield firmly to the ground and stomp on it just a little in order to find the courage to post.
A selfie that puts my vanity and ego on the line as I make myself vulnerable to the judgement of a world that says “you are not enough.”
Yet I know that I am.
And at midlife, I’m claiming that right to say “I AM enough.”
Freckles, wrinkles, frizzy hair and all.
But why do it though? Why make myself – and why should any woman – make herself publicly vulnerable at this stage of life?
I’m not doing it to make a statement but because I’ve learned that by being vulnerable, there are three incredible things that happen when you are wanting to reinvent yourself…
- You liberate yourself from expectation: True vulnerability means saying “this is who I am” in the face of a world that demands perfection. Imagine the lightness of soul that comes with no longer holding yourself to a standard that you can never maintain? Let’s face it too – this standard might be portrayed in the media at al – but is has been YOU that has chosen to hold yourself to it. YOU who has measured yourself by it and YOU that has determined that you are a failure when you haven’t lived up to the expectations that you set for yourself. Choosing to be vulnerable is you taking a stand for yourself. It is you, choosing to acknowledge the messy, imperfect person that you are – and being okay with that whilst open to what comes next. Doesn’t that sound an amazing state to be in?
- You open yourself up to possibility: When I made one of my earlier midlife reinventions of transitioning from overweight, unhealthy homeschooling mother to an 18 kg lighter, hugely fitter and healthier personal trainer – I chose to make myself vulnerable. Those who have heard me speak have heard the stories of how challenging it was to be an unfit and heavy 43 year old woman studying amongst students who were younger than my own children. I felt so incredibly vulnerable and exposed during that year that I donned a tracksuit and undertook fitness testing alongside physically strong youngsters, yet that choice to humble myself and enter the classroom with these young people, (bearing in mind that I already had a four year degree and two certificates behind my name and was now starting over in a completely new field) changed not only my life, but that of my family’s and the people that I went on to work with. Being vulnerable led to a period of life changing transition.
- You enable others to find their voices: It only took one voice to begin the #metoo movement. Tarana Burke first coined the term years before it was used in relation to the Harvey Weinstein allegations and by being vulnerable enough to acknowledge her own experience and reach out to others – she inadvertently birthed a movement that has been powerful and liberating for so many women caught in the dark secrecy and despair of sexual abuse. When we share our own vulnerabilities – be that about how we look, about our fears or about our experiences – we grant permission for others to respond with their own “me too!” which can in turn lead to healing and freedom. It’s like I say to my clients – when we fulfil our own life purpose, we can’t help but affect others in our world.
“…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”–Audre Lorde
When we peel back the layers of our social media personas and reveal our true selves, our stories and our hearts, our authenticity may polarise. I’m sure that I will lose followers and subscribers once this blog post goes out and people see that the “wizard behind the curtain” is simply an ordinary woman from DownUnder trying her best to live a life of service to others. I take courage however as I know that as I reveal my own vulnerability, I step into my strength and possibility of growth and reinvention – and if that inspires one other woman to do likewise, then it is worth it.
PS: Have you grabbed my gift to you yet?
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