real life

'I wear a cloak of invisibility in certain shops.' And other things I’ve noticed since turning 50.

Let me start by saying that this isn’t a whingefest about being old. 

I like being older. 

I like the fact I feel in charge of my life, after my 20s and 30s were a whirlwind of dating, drinking, dancing (so much dancing) and bad choices. 

I like the fact that I have my own apartment, a husband, a career. I like that I know how I feel about things. 

I like that I know I love Aldi and I am painfully loyal to certain products they sell and will try to convince you of their delights at any given opportunity. I even like the fact that some younger folk may think that is the most boring sentence they have ever read. They may have a point, but I don’t mind. 

Watch: Advice for 5-year-old me with Deborah Mailman. Post continues below. 

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I like that I am able to get older, when so many people suffer with ill health or huge life challenges, I am aware of my good fortune and I hold on to it.

There are a couple of things, though, that I don’t particularly like about being older. Small, gripey things. 

Like the fact that I am invisible.

I don’t just mean to the male gaze, though that is part of it.  I know Mamamia Outloud  spoke about this a while back and while no woman in her right mind wants the wolf whistles or the cat calls, to feel unsafe walking anywhere or to feel threatened in any way, but the cloak of invisibility that I seem to wear in bars where 20-something men are serving and 20-something women are buying is quite the thing.

It’s a large, thick cloak made of coarse material that as well as rendering me invisible, also makes me feel like I’m intruding. It also means, in bars where 20-something women are doing the serving, that middle-aged men who want to get their attention have been known to literally push in front of me.

It’s a horrible cloak. 

I must wear the same cloak in clothes shops, too. Like if I’m buying something in General Pants, for example, I seem to always have it on. Either that or I seem so out of context to the 20-something girls who work there that I somehow don’t exist to them. I surely can’t wear the low-slung jeans or the gossamer camisoles with my midlife body so I am not really there at all. 


I have given up, and I now just slink back to COS or Seed where I am freed from the cloak and allowed to wander through the racks of clothes more suited to my age and body shape. I even get asked if I need any help. Blissful. 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

Then there is the fact that I have become my mother when it comes to technology. For many years I’d tut and raise my eyes to the sky when my mother asked me why her printer had suddenly stopped working “on both sides” or why her “email number” wasn’t working anymore. 

Now, reader, I am the woman who can’t get Binge to stream on her TV without holding a national enquiry, and an update on my iPad or phone or – heaven forbid – backing them up to my computer, sees my husband inundated with questions ranging from “is this bad?” to “what does a completely black screen mean?”. 

I don’t know how that happened. I’m a smart person who has worked with computers, emails, sound recording equipment and more for years, but in my family at least, like the aforementioned iPads and phones, there is a warranty on the technical side our brains, and when we hit about 50, because we didn’t buy an extended one, it just starts to run slower and we can’t update the software anymore. 

See, even that analogy I had to really think about. 

And now there is the bedtime thing. During the drinking, dancing phase of life, I’d be out til 3am, up at 7, fresh as a daisy for work. 

I don’t expect to be able to – or indeed want to – do that now.


I love my bed. I really love my doona. I don’t go out dancing anymore (and if I did, let’s face it, I’d be wearing that cloak anyway) but I’d love to be able to stay up til 3am. To be honest, I’d settle for midnight. Especially on New Year’s Eve.

These days my husband often goes to bed early to read and I stay up to watch the reality TV shows he refuses to look at - and so it goes that you’ll find me asleep on the couch by 10:30pm, MAFS or The Bachelor still playing away on catch up TV. 

I try SO HARD to stay up later but it’s like clockwork – even when I’m away on holiday it seems I have a self-regulated curfew where my system just shuts itself down around 10pm. Last night I woke up, dribbling, on the couch around 11:15pm and the cat had laid a protective paw on my arm.

Don’t get me wrong – I know I’m making myself sound like a cliché. I don’t mean to. I’m working harder than ever, I’m healthy, I’m writing, podcasting, partying with friends, dressing well and - despite the content of this story - living life to the full even now. But sometimes getting older can be a “punish”. Is that what the young people say? Zzzzzzz.

CLAIRE ISAAC is the co-host of podcast Playing Devil’s Avocado and the co-author of How Not to Live Your Best Life.

Feature Image: Getty.

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