For a long time, I have felt invisible. Not just unseen, but truly invisible. I have walked into an 8-foot by 10-foot room occupied by two other people, and have gone unnoticed until I loudly announced myself. But more often, I just go unseen.
The first time I remember feeling invisible was when I was three-and-a-half. I had braces on my legs to treat a childhood disease, and I had just been bitten in the face by a dog that was afraid of my braces. People looked at the braces, and the bandage on my face, but not into my eyes. Their pity was hard to take.
At nearly 50 years of age, I started tie-dyeing pants, because I think most men’s pants are boring. I soon found out I was not as invisible as I had imagined. This was a revelation to me. I experimented at attracting attention to myself with my colorful clothes. Over time I have become more comfortable with my greater visibility.
Older Americans often feel invisible. No longer a sought-after demographic, store clerks can favor other customers. I’ve read that older people appear gruff, not because they’ve grown grumpy, but because it’s an attitude they must adopt to get attention. That makes me sad.
I predict that is going to change, soon. My generation, the Baby Boomers, have always been the center of attention due to our large numbers. For the next 20 years, 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will be turning 70. I don’t think we will put up with being ignored. We will demand the level of attention we’ve always received, and deserved.
I look forward to the day when older Americans are revered members of society, visible and honored for our wisdom. Soon, I hope!