7 Things Women Start to Understand After 30Jan 27, 2021
7 Things Women Start to Understand After 30
I spend a lot of time working and talking to women over the age of thirty - after all, that’s who I serve, primarily, and the kind of transformative life coaching we engage in often leads to conversations that are entertaining, challenging, thought-provoking, heartbreaking and profound.
Be warned: I pull no punches. I’ve found that women’s experiences are unified by any number of elements, regardless of culture. Our femaleness transcends time, space, social media, and faith, and we’re at the nexus of some very big ideas. These are the things that I talk about with women, and some of them creep into this post.
Why 30? Why not 25 or 35 or…?
It’s kind of an arbitrary age, in some ways. But I have found that women have to have been around for a while in order to really start to “get” some of these ideas - women in their twenties can certainly have an inkling, but it takes time….trust me. And being thirty isn’t a magic threshold - you can be in your 60s and clueless. Trust me.
“ A Strong Woman Understands That The Gifts Such As Logic, Decisiveness, And Strength Are Just As Feminine As Intuition And Emotional Connection. She Values And Uses All Of Her Gifts.” ~ Nancy Rathburn
The List (in no particular order)
High school popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to adulthood success.
I can safely say that I was not popular at any point in my schooling career. This is not me being coy or self-deprecating: it’s a hardcore fact. Even those who were ‘unpopular’ were more popular than I was because they at least had their own group of friends and a dating pool.
I was so unpopular (doesn’t that sound like the lead-in to a joke?) that I was not asked out even once in the entirety of my teenage years. I didn’t even have male friends that would be willing to be seen with me at dances or graduations. So, I did people’s hair and makeup for Grade 9 (Freshman) grad/prom, and I helped the DJ (and ran the event) at our Grade 12 Grad/Senior prom.
Now, I could lie and say - like an 80s teen rom-com - that I was a rebel and a maverick (and yes, ok, maybe I was one, at least a bit), and that I was seen for my natural beauty and a cool guy came along and saved me, or that I really was the independent one who was marching to her own drummer (kinda true), but - dammit - I would have given just about anything for a particular crush to ask me to do anything. Anything at all.
In retrospect, it’s probably best he didn’t.
Anyway, I was convinced that this complete social ineptitude was going to demarcate the rest of my life. Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t turn 18, or leave my hometown and - shazam! - become an exotic flower. Faaaarrrrrr from it. It was more a situation of “same shit, different pile”.
Long story short(ish): Through the years I learned that I could be successful, without being especially popular - the two weren’t aligned in the way I had thought they were, and by about 26 I’d figured it out.
I didn’t figure out the social component - the “how to be a successfully socially functioning adult” until about 46, though.
Can’t win ‘em all.
Martha Stewart is clearly an alien.
I entered my married years believing that the highwater mark of home-making and-keeping was Martha Stewart. I mean, come on! Button downs and pearls, casually chic hair and attitude, friends with everyone, perfectly cooked meals, perfectly appointed home(s), what wasn’t to admire...and attempt to emulate.
So, between Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living I was up to my eyeballs in frosted fall pumpkins and French boulangerie-quality biscuits with 42 layers of perfectly laminated butter/dough poofing up nonchalantly.
This was when I was working full time, working as a coach and speaking trainer on the side, completing a Masters in Leadership….just add a little “playing house” to the mix, and BOOM! Perfect woman, perfect wife, perfect homemaker.
Then…..we had a child. And I started a Ph.D. And I melted down, physically...and maybe a little bit mentally.
So, what did I do? Well, once I got out of the hospital, I kept “Martha Stewart-ing”.
I mean, the woman went to jail, for Christ’s sake, and still managed to be a badass business maven while in jail.
Who needs sleep?
It wasn’t until I had our second child, at 34 that I realized, “OHHHH, WAIT A MINUTE…..”
Only then did I realize that Martha Stewart is not a human being. She’s just wearing a human-style outfit (tailored to perfection), masquerading about making us commoners (aka women) feel like frauds and failures.
That, or she has lots of money, and a really big team of people to keep her shit organized and do the grunt work behind the scenes.
Whether we decide to have children - or not - whether we can have children - or not - everyone and their dog has an opinion - we’re STILL being judged on our value based on our procreation and parenting success.
Feminism is damned, women are still being defined on the Maid-Mother-Crone continuum. Under the surface of most conversations are questions and comments about our relationship status (and, increasingly, our gender-identification) and our intentions (or not) to pair up formally. This is followed by: When are you planning to have kids? How? And helpful reminders like, “You know, you don’t have forever…” (thanks, Auntie Betty).
Once fertility timelines and procreation plans are thoroughly discussed (and approved of...or disapproved of…), we end up being funnellled down one of two pathways. Pathway A is Autonomy. Pathway B is Babies.
Don’t you think it’s interesting I’ve put them in two separate camps? Wanna know why??
It’s because the North American (and much of the British-Empire-infused world) model of mothering is “Thou Shalt Sacrifice Thyself” (see #2, above).
It follows, then (doesn’t it?), that Pathway A women are selfish, self-centered, and clearly can’t put anyone’s needs ahead of their own. They deserve to be shriveled up old maids that smell musty and live alone with their 73 cats named “Bitsy” until the end of time when they die and no one attends their self-centered ass’ funeral.
These two camps can be viciously defended - and attacked - by those that have vested interests in one or the other.
Of course, all this does is compound the notion that motherhood is what defines a woman and her worth...otherwise, why would we fight about it?
I went ahead and compounded the dangerous potential of Pathway B by deciding to homeschool, on top of actually having the babies.
My reason wasn’t to go for the “Full Sacrifice Package” - my reasons were myriad and other, but the external perception (and reaction) has been that I choose this because I was totally committed to my children (and, by extension, totally sacrificial of myself).
Funnily enough, the homeschooling thing happened after I snapped out of the Martha Stewart phase. I was almost home-free, and I went and threw myself right back into the crazy-making game.
The “great” thing about homeschooling is that everybody will blame you for everything that is “bad” about your kids. The kid being naughty? Well, it’s obviously because you don’t have structure, discipline, the kid has too much tech and/or sugar, and on and on and on. The kid struggles reading? It’s because they’re homeschooled.
Same kid has the same reading problem in a school setting? I’ve yet to hear someone say it’s because the kid is “schooled”.
So, yeah, I’m clearly a glutton for punishment.
I was probably about 41 before I truly “got” that everyone has their opinion...and 46 when I accepted that you do your best, you hope for the best, and that’s about it.
Frankly, some of the happiest women I know are single and childless - and the most miserable?? Yup, married with children. Doesn’t mean they’re correlated - but it does mean that one thing doesn’t necessarily lead to the other, whatever that “other” may be (regardless of the religious, traditionalist, and/or feminist opinions to the contrary).
And people will still have their judgey-ass opinions. Just try not to be one of those people, ok?
Chris Hemsworth is clearly a god.
I was 37; he was 28. It was love at first sight.
Relationships don't fill the holes on the inside. Neither does food, alcohol, shopping, sex, achievement, money, validation, or social media 'likes'.
I’d like to lie and say I’ve put all these myths to bed, but as I said….it’d be a lie. Most of them have been debunked, but I’m currently battling food to the ground...and it’s not clear who will win yet. Check out my Insta for progress reports throughout 2021: @teewithd Ha! I’m also struggling with IG ‘likes’!So, let’s say late 20s for a few breakthroughs, late 30s for a few more, and it’s shaping up too late 40s for the last ones. See?? It’s a journey.
Clothes can make us feel amazing...and they can make us feel like shit...and it’s actually NOT about our body shape…but we often fool ourselves into thinking that it IS.
OK, this one deserves a straight-up shout out to Lauren Messiah (IG: @laurenmessiah - before October of 2019, I was a hot mess. The types of things I’ve spoken about above (and elsewhere) had taken their toll, and I was dressing (and feeling) like...a homeschooling mom and teacher, pasty, fat, dowdy, uninteresting, uninspired, solidly “meh”.
Through a series of fortuitous connections (some would say it was fate!), I came across Lauren and her work (I wasn’t looking), and I jumped before I thought about it (see the thing about “shopping filling a hole”? Yeah.).
Sometimes the gods have got your back (thanks, Thor <3 ).
It only took me about 2 days to realize what the problem was...ME. More specifically, the stories I had been telling myself about my body.
So, at 45, I began a process of discovery that is still going on. If you look at pictures of me from just over a year ago, you wouldn’t recognize me - the difference is that profound.
Many other things were going on in my life at about that time, and it’s hard to argue ‘chicken-or-egg’, but I am thoroughly convinced that the realization that - even though I was not born (nor can I buy) Jennifer Lawrence’s body - that doesn’t mean I have to look like...well, like I did.
With that shift in perspective came a reimagining of potential and possibility, and the confidence that naturally tags along.
Despite the fact I read every “Teen Vogue” magazine that came my way when I was young, and considered myself versed in the magic of “dressing for your body type”, it only took a little while to embrace this work now to realize I was totally out to lunch.
More than that, as an artist, I had been denying myself the sheer joy that comes from playing with patterns and colours and textures. Other people take up scrapbooking as a hobby - I took up fashion research, knowledge, and application. And I have a MIGHTY long way to go. But that’s ok.
Thor will wait.
Speaking of bodies... female bodies take WAY MORE MAINTENANCE, and it's often NO FUN... and a pain in the ass (sometimes literally).
If you haven’t figured this out by age 30, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding. Now, there’s a wide spectrum of potential “maintenance” that can be undertaken (and I’ll spare you the itemization here), but at the most basic level, the physiology and cycles we experience requires...shall we say?...attendance?
A guy can well and truly let everything go - he can be a stinky, dirty, hairy, grotesque specimen, but even then it’s easier than our (female) experiences.
Some of you might be quite delighted by the various grooming and beautification rituals available to enhance your femininity. I, for one, enjoy all the colourful, sparkly nail polishes and makeup available to us. That’s pure fun to me.
Some of you might prefer to be as natural as possible.
But none of us gets out of the necessary mechanics of menstrual management. Pretty hard to ignore that action.
And regardless of your personal experiences, by the age of 30 you might be growing a wee bit resentful. Sure, it gets reframed as the glory of motherhood, bearing children, being at one with the Goddess, fertility, power, blah, blah, blah, but IT’S ANNOYING.
I would LOVE to see a dude deal with any of those physical aspects of femalehood - but, like, not as if he was trained from age 12 - like, just drop it on him at 23. Sit back and enjoy the show.
I didn't really fully appreciate the magnitude of the difference until I was about 34 - by then I’d had two children (naturally), and (like most mothers) went straight into recovery/the trenches simultaneously.
So, when my husband informed me that he had to schedule his vasectomy for when the Masters (golf) was on, so he had something “to do” while he sat around for 4 days with a bag of frozen peas in his lap….well, something may or may not have snapped in me.
When I informed him that “I’d pushed a watermelon out of a walnut-hole” (our first was 10 lbs), and never even had HALF A DAY OF RECOVERY, he tried to argue that “it’s not the same thing.”
DAMN STRAIGHT, BUDDY. IT. IS. NOT. THE. SAME. THING.
Anyway, there’s my list. It’s hardly scientific - my point is more that growing older as a female comes with a number of realizations that no one really tells you about - and even if they did, you probably wouldn’t “get it” until….you did.
If you’re looking for a community where you can learn to be your fullest, most authentic self, where you can learn to speak up and out eloquently and skillfully about everything that being you - and being a female - means, then maybe TEEwithD is the place for you. From courses to coaching, there are options (and more are being added throughout 2021) that might fit you….like well-tailored, stylish clothes ;-)
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