Middle Aged Ninja

I had an idea for an article back in December. I pitched it, wrote it, sent it off for approval. The response was wildly enthusiastic. I was yet to invoice, thinking I’d send through a request when it was about to be published. It was, just this week, only slightly different. A different word here, a different link there, a slightly different phrase, but the same idea. The author, the credit, the name – not mine.

With my stomach in knots I have done the usual. I’ve told myself my writing wasn’t up to scratch. I’ve got angry with them, angry with me, and wasted a day of my holiday with something circulating in the back of my mind. Was it my fault? Should I have sent the invoice immediately? I should have communicated better. I should have written it differently. It obviously wasn’t as good as they had initially indicated. The strongest feeling though is the embarrassment.

What I should have done is read my original piece. Reminded myself of how good it is to be at the stage I’m at. That I can take a bit of criticism, a hiccup, and move on – stronger for the experience. I will keep writing, I will get better with the administration, I will not let this feeling in the bottom of my stomach grow into anything more than it deserves. I will be a middle aged ninja. Here it is…

Much has been written of the invisible middle-aged woman. Recent research from a herbal remedies company found that over 70% of middle-aged women surveyed “felt unnoticed by the opposite sex” while more than half of the women interviewed felt they were judged negatively because of their age.

At 45, it was some time ago that I waded into the waters of being described as a young woman. I dived head first into my 20’s (with a healthy amount of skinny dipping). After drowning in the sterilised bottles, nappies, and child friendly snacks that came with motherhood in my 30’s, I now find myself skating at full speed over the icy reference of being “a woman of a certain age”.

I’d like to pretend I haven’t noticed the invisibility factor, that as a species we’ve evolved and I’ve somehow remained immune. That the fact that I’m surrounded by confident women whose combined life experiences could construct a New York Times best seller has provided us all with the superpower of constant relevance and visibility – but there have been some obvious changes. At a recent tech launch a much younger and fellow participant mentioned youth as the criteria to innovation not once but possibly 45 times in our five minute conversation. As he looked over my shoulder, no doubt for someone more innovative to speak to, he seemed keen to escape my presence perhaps fearful that the disease of aging may be catching.

Yes, there have been times that I’ve felt invisible, which is fine because you know who else is invisible? Ninjas. And I’ve decided that’s exactly what I am – a Middle-Aged Ninja.

The Middle Aged Ninja gets her power from perspective, she’s survived the mean girl at high school, the drama of her early 20’s and the self doubt that sat on her shoulder when she began her first job. The Middle-Aged Ninja learnt what her body was capable of after 15 hours of active labour to then face the “joy” of the transitional stage of child birth. Other ninjas went through invisibility training while sitting still as a needle was inserted into their spine, allowing them the slightly alien experience of being paralysed while a small group of people fossicked around in her abdomen. The single and childless ninjas amongst us have faced the interrogation of life choices and arrived in their middle-aged state feeling no need to explain, nor justify. When you put these ninjas together they become ultimate ninjas, swiftly making their way through everyday sexism, they’re the people you go to to get shit done.

The Middle Age Ninja has discovered the spring in her step that can arrive with a pair of spanx, a decent hair cut, and a good nights sleep. She has the money for that impulse buy, knows what looks best, and quite frankly doesn’t care if you don’t like it – she’s done with people pleasing. She has learnt the hard way that life is short; it’s more than likely she’s lost a friend or parent to illness or misfortune. She understands that time is not be wasted and is ready to have a go at the dreams she considered but didn’t have the time or perhaps resources for at 25.

When I ask my fellow ninjas what it is that they’re enjoying about middle-age it’s a recurring theme “I’m comfortable in my own skin” is the phrase thats used again and again. The skin that the beauty industry would have us lathering in anti-aging creams, the skin that has wrinkled and stretched while we’ve been training as ninjas – gaining our powers. Don’t underestimate the middle-age ninja, she’s been working towards this age of knowing what she wants with the luxury of freedom she’d previously dreamed of, her skills now fine tuned. Keep your eye out for her, she’s pretty amazing.

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