Feeling Invisible

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Invisible 2Have you ever been in a situation where you’re surrounded by people much younger than yourself?  Have you ever felt invisible as they talk past you?  A similar experience might occur even when the others are closer to your age, but they all know each other or attend the same class/club/church/temple/mosque/whatever, and you’re the odd man out.  This might happen when you’re seated at a table while attending an event, marking time in a waiting room, or at any other venue where you find yourself surrounded by strangers who are with others in a common grouping.

In situations like that, it’s often hard to strike up a conversation. People near you seem only interested in talking to those of the same age, pursuit, social history… You might try to steer the conversation around to something universal such as the current political situation, a recent news item, whatever. However, the conversation segues back to their niche interests.

The others might be polite to you if you do manage to interject something, but they quickly turn back to their peers. In the case of those much younger, you notice the chatter centers around subjects that don’t interest you: a certain type of music, jobs, children’s play dates, someone you don’t know, or things that you’ve outgrown.

You want to shout out your credentials: I’m bright; I’m educated; I’m well-traveled; I’m interesting. But, of course, you don’t; that’s socially unacceptable. So, you sit there in silence feeling awkward and rejected.

I’ve heard some seniors say that they don’t like being around large groups their own age. They prefer to be with younger people as it makes them feel young. I’ve never understood that. I can’t imagine what they even talk about.

Yes, there are some situations where the meeting centers around a specific topic common to all present, and age differences don’t matter. There also might be specific individuals who easily bridge the age gap. But, those are the exception, not the norm. I find it much more comfortable to be with others in my same age group. We have a commonality of experiences and are no longer focused on the things done by age specific younger generations such as child rearing and careers.

When you find yourself in situations like these, it’s time to look around the room for the senior folks. If you can’t find any or are stuck at a table with those half your age, you might whip out that book you always carry with you. You forgot to take the book? Your cell phone can entertain you for a while. Or, you might simply relax and enjoy people watching. That’s always a fun sport.  And, when you hear such talk as diaper rash, pediatricians, and the like, you can rejoice that you’re in the “been there, done that” age group.


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Photo credit: Odenosuke via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA


Filed under active seniors, Baby boomers, gerontology, health and wellness, healthy aging, longevity, reinvention, retirement, seniors, successful aging, wellness

6 responses to “Feeling Invisible

  1. Yes, it’s not the best feeling and I’m sure many have experienced it. It’s not personal, but often just rude and insensitive! Great idea to pull out a book–that would grab attention, more than a cel phone, which is pretty common nowadays, but a book… hmmm. Perhaps an appropriate title choice would send a message!

    • Wonderful hearing from you, Ester. Yes, I like the idea of the “message sending” book title. How about “Stories to Pass the Time When Everyone Is Ignoring You”? I hope you are well. I miss IWOSC.

  2. Roger Trammell

    I’ve experienced that feeling when being the only black person among a group of white people, LGG, I’ve even had the “N” bomb dropped in front of invisible me. But, as you explained, there can be more that one cause of invisibility…a good topic, LGG.

    • I’m sorry that you’ve had those experiences, Rog. I still can’t believe the insensitivity of people. I remember a movie years ago where the female reporter is in the room of a prestigious university faculty meeting with only old, conservative males, and one comments on how women should be in the kitchen and tending to the children. Our reporter stands up and says, “Are you rude or merely stupid?” I wish I had the ability to come up with just the right comment at just the right moment. I’m working on it and should be good to go when I’m 95:-)

  3. Your style is so unique in comparison to other folks І’ve read stuff from.
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    • I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I have been blogging approximately every two weeks for almost 5 years. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of the blog and fill in the information.

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