Not Dead Yet! The Deep Creases of Agism

“Mom, Tyler asked if you were old yet. He said he can’t imagine you ever getting old.”

My 32-year-old son was visiting an old neighborhood friend on a recent out of state trip. This was part of their conversation. At first I was amused because, well, girls just want to have fun.

But I haven’t been called a girl in over 50 years.

So to be clear, I am older, but not dead.

But lately I have felt I might as well be. Seriously.

In an effort to provide for life necessities, retirement, and an occasional pleasure trip, I have sent out hundreds of resumes, filled out countless job applications, updated my social network profiles, and let friends, business associates, and acquaintances know I am in search of work.

I have received one call that led to more interviews which led to a job offer after one more interview which never happened. I called to ask, because that is what inquiring minds do, and was told the position had been filled already. Say what?  I have received daily emails thanking me for applying, but they opted on a different candidate for the position. Funny thing is is that the position is still posted on their web site and other generic job sites.

What is up with that? I refuse to take it personally although to be honest I have owned it. It must be me.

This last week one of the jobs I applied for had this question. Are you younger than 40? I finished the application hoping they were looking for someone with experience. They weren’t.

It isn’t as if I don’t have skills. I have skills. I have a B.A. in communications. I write. I film. I edit. I have been a marketing director, a film producer, an office manager for an accounting boutique. I have owned a bakery. I have taught school. I have been elected on a school board! I started a small town newspaper. I opened a country store and sold local handmade items on consignment. I have created hundreds of intimate life documentaries and business impact videos. I have referral letters and letters of recommendations.  I have skills!

I also believe in being kind and generous. I have provided my services happily and freely to friends and acquaintances because I am passionate about my work. I have taught them, mentored them and encouraged them.  I guess, in honesty, I thought helping others was good marketing.  Maybe they would refer me and my services to paying clients. Two did. Two.

So, now in my  60th year the plus side is that I no longer have to fear a “me too” moment. Yes, most women, I believe, have experienced uncomfortable moments during work or even social engagements where they are acknowledged for totally inappropriate reasons.

However, I am no longer seen at all. Now I am invisible, discounted and ignored as a viable team member at the “table.” I have even experienced someone telling the “table” not to care about what I think or say because no one listens to me.  Which feels worse? Does it matter?

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not dead and neither are the many other lovely ladies who have, so far, led lives of service to families, schools, communities, careers and society. Ladies who have acquired skills of multi-tasking, management, and diplomacy. You would be wise to listen to us. We know stuff.

So, don’t you discount me. Don’t you dare discount me. You can try to diminish what I and others like me have and will continue to contribute. But that would be a mistake. A big mistake. At 60 I don’t care about what you think or say. I am not listening to you anymore.  I don’t need your validation or acknowledgment. I never did. So own that.

I was an entrepreneur 30 years ago and what I have discovered is my courage comes from me, not you. And besides…

… this girl likes to have fun!

I may be older, but I am definitely not dead!

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