I’ve had many phases of growing up female. There are so many voices shouting at us, telling us, for example, that we shouldn’t idolize a Barbie figure, and then not really changing the social context that made us want that tiny waist, those big boobs, and the legs that never end. You females who were born after my generation was supposedly have it easier, but my view is, you have it tougher.
Yes, you have more options; there has been progress with equal pay, Title Nine, Family Medical Leave, and other legislation. But you have been raised by a generation that has hovered over your every decision. We have tracked you down with cell phone features that let us know your every move. We have made you report in at every change of plan. We have taught you that you cannot rely on yourself: that you need us. We are intrinsically connected to your lives, and in many cases, long after we should have urged you out of the nest and watched you soar higher than we ever could have.
But we didn’t. We hovered. We opined. We suggested. We controlled.
Now that you are an adult, what’s a girl to do?
You want control back, but it scares you. You want to experiment, to take a risk, but you don’t really know what that feels like. How could you, when we should have been letting you take risks when you were young and we were there to be your guide, but instead we tried to protect you from everything. We got away with so much when we were young! We raised you as if our childhood had been mere reconnaissance for raising you. You want to stop worrying about disappointing others – but you’re too worried that others really do know what’s best. You’re reading a stranger’s blog, after all, right?
I’ll offer four changes that are still working for me: first, you just start. You start with noticing. Are you doing something because you want to, because you’re drawn to it, and you feel lightness and joy involved? Or are you doing something because you fear not doing it?
Next, you start connecting with others who are on a similar journey – hopefully some who are a little farther along on their excursion than you. There’s nothing like a milepost marker to inspire your endurance and keep you feeling that what you’ve taken on is doable.
Third, write it down. Whatever it is you want, there is power in committing that intention to paper. Whether it is a material goal, to buy a house or a brand new car, a vision of a healthy relationship with another, a physical challenge, or a career aspiration, write it down. I discourage putting an age association with any of those, however. They are arbitrary, and I’ve seen more bouts of the blues because someone didn’t hit their goal of this or that by age thirty, or whatever age was the dream. Does it really matter if you’re thirty or thirty-three when you run your first marathon, write your first published piece, or have your first baby? No, it really doesn’t.
Fourth is, well, I’ve saved the best for last. Learn to meditate. If you once knew but drifted from the practice, resume it. Even a commitment of two minutes a few times a week will make a difference. I’ve newly returned to the practice, and am quite a rookie. I’m experimenting with meditating in silence, to music, and with a guide. Each has brought me a special peace and awareness of connection with…everything and nothing. Don’t let that 70’s vibe scare you. There is something to this.
My daughter once shared a lesson she learned from someone else with me. When you are at a crossroads, feeling indecisive, take a few steps in either direction. It really doesn’t much matter which. It usually won’t take long for you to realize whether you took the path that will serve you best, or not.