A Difficult Age

Turning 47 isn’t fun, but at least I don’t have to go through the tribulations of a teen or young adult. Been there, dare I say I got the medal, and now it’s all about, well…fooling people into thinking I’m younger than I actually am. Such is the irony of a woman’s development and decline.

When you’re young, you’re worried about accidentally creating babies. By the time you’re past the threat of that, no man wants to touch you because your face is bumpy and wrinkled, your hair is dry and brittle, and you’ve got a pot belly. Ah! Such are the tribulations of the old maid.

One smart and vivacious friend of mine told me that she couldn’t stand her own image in the mirror every morning. She said that then she realized that today, Today, is the youngest and the best she’ll ever look for the rest of her life. When it’s tomorrow, she’ll say the same, because it’s true. That is feminism in practice.

Grandma was the best feminist I’ve known so far, mainly because she raised me from when I was a toddler until I was 7 years old with much love and affirmation. I loved her with all my being. She taught me that I could do whatever I set my mind on. She was my encourager, my nurturer, my cheerleader. She was, however, caught up in chronic dissatisfaction. She had expressed many times that she wished she had been born a “modern” woman and had completed her education. All her kids and grandkids recognized that had she been born in our era, she would have gotten at least a doctorate, if not also a second one. She channeled that energy into taking care of us kids instead. I don’t know what I would have turned out to be if it weren’t for her. After all, you’re only as smart as the five smartest people around you. I am not nearly that smart. It’s just that her open-mindedness was my boon.

Some men in my circle might think I’m a waste of time once they learn I’ve “bought into the feminist dialogue”. You know, it wasn’t until I “got caught up” that I learned new things about myself. Like that I’m adverse to long-term, boy-girl commitment, that my basic instinct is to write, and that I can do well at anything I set my mind on doing. But, even as a feminist, I’m not always thinking of my violated rights though; I do cultivate myself and build my own castle, instead, where nobody else can go. OK, I do keep my hair long. Heck why not look good?

But I’ve been boxing in feminine females, young females, old females, feminist females into cubbyholes. The reality is not so neat and tidy. In the end though, almost every female feels like she’s growing too old too fast. That is a good time to introduce some so-called feminist thinking to your consciousness if you haven’t already done so, though it might seem as though you’re overcompensating at times. Knowing that you don’t matter to men anymore after you hit 40 should give you the hint to move on elsewhere – and to be glad of that. Life is too short, and the bucket list too long, to waste your time on trying to reclaim what cannot possibly be realistic to reclaim. Your youth is gone by now, but you are wiser, you’ve seen the world, you’ve learned skills, you have experience. Besides, the bullying stops or lessens because you have come so far. And when bullying does come, in whatever way, shape or form, you fight back – knowing that at 40something, you have little else to lose. You’re childless and have no real family anyway what have you got to lose? And see what gain future generations might have as they follow behind your widening swathe!

I’d say after 40, you’ve come far enough to know yourself and your strengths to stand up for yourself, whether or not men care or other women pass you over. At the risk of sounding trite, you’re now your own woman. Forty-something years as a female is a lot of female. Own that much. ~V

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