I’m officially grown. I’m 33 and 3/4 years old. I have a toddler, a mortgage and a Volkswagen. I’m sure you know that with age comes wisdom (that I will probably laugh at 5 years from now) and I must admit that I feel significantly more wise than I did at 29. Maybe I’m finally old enough to have perspective or maybe becoming a mother forced me to be less neurotic, but I’m comfortable in my own skin for the first time and it feels GOOD. I’m a little more grounded and much less reactive. I know how to set boundaries and I experience profound joy every single day (thanks Baby Drew). As I inch ever closer to 40, I’ve learned a thing or two or three:
1) It’s not that big of a deal. Three years from now this problem or decision or phase that you are agonizing over will show up in your TimeHop and just be a cute memory. Three years goes by in the blink of an eye so even if you ARE dating the wrong guy, living in the wrong city, or attending the wrong college, I gotta break it to you… It’s not that big of a deal. Right now you can’t comprehend that but give it some time. With the exception of a VERY few life-altering moments, nothing is as crucial as we imagine it to be, or permanent or even that big of a deal.
2) No one is making you do anything. Unless you’ve been kidnapped and imprisoned a la Kimmy Schmidt, no one is forcing you to do anything. No one is “making you” feel some type of way. Not your boss. Not your girlfriends from high school. Not the MTA. Not even Donald F’ing Trump. Anything you do – whether it fills you with joy or misery – was your choice. Anything you feel – though slightly harder to control – is the way you choose to react. If your commute is a source of daily bitching, ask to work from home, quit your job, or move. If a group of girls you see once a month for old time’s sake bums you the fuck out or annoys you or is just one more thing you “have to do” I have a novel idea for you: Stop hanging out with them. No one is making you. And no one is going to cry. They’ll talk shit about you for one happy hour and then forget you ever existed, until you appear in their TimeHop that is… And then they’ll G-chat shit about you for that ONE day but you’ll be free of them forever. And if someone makes your blood boil and you absolutely cannot avoid this person, you must detach. Do not let them steal your peace. Reframe the experience and understand that you do not need to react to them. This is where the serenity prayer really hits the nail on the head, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” The sooner you realize that only YOU own your choices – all of them – the sooner you’ll stop wasting time suffering unnecessarily just by giving up your agency.
3) Being a Woman is hard. I’m sure being a man is hard too. I’ve never been a man though, so I can only comment on being a woman. I used to believe that my gender didn’t matter. That people would always judge me solely by my brains, my work ethic, and my expertise. I didn’t really “get” feminism. Surprise, surprise, motherhood changed all that. I’m no longer a genderless over-achiever carving out my corner of the universe. I am very much, a woman. I carried a baby in my belly on a crowded subway train. I delivered said baby and navigated maternity leave. I pumped in a janitor’s closet for 13 months. I rush home many days of the week to pick up my son from daycare and I do not feel guilty about it because it is my choice (MY choice) but I would be lying if I didn’t say it was hard. And I don’t think anything is hard. I’m “driven” to the point of masochism and something being “hard” has never deterred me from doing it. But being a professional woman over the age of 30 and most particularly a mom, is hard. Men and working male parents do not have to make all the hard choices we do. Men do not have the same expectations placed on them when it comes to home life. And men still run shit, almost everywhere. Being a mother is the most beautiful experience and I can’t imagine anything in the world comparing to it, but it is just plain hard. I acknowledge how hard it is and congratulate myself on a daily basis. I also congratulate other moms because I don’t need to know them personally to know how bad ass they are. And women who are CEO’s, startup founders, and homeowners – my hat goes way off to you too. Because it is not easy getting respected and promoted or funded as a woman. And it is not easy to make and save and invest money as a woman. Women everywhere are STILL fighting for fundamental rights while being violated and legislated against, and it is hard! We are doing it, but it’s hard.
And I guess #4 is…be kind to yourself. Give yourself credit because you are doing great. Tell yourself kind things everyday because you deserve it. Take exquisite, loving care of yourself. Make an effort to de-stress daily because that shit will kill you. And for those of you still in your 20’s, don’t worry. It doesn’t really all go down hill after 30. In fact, I feel like I’ve finally cleared away all the bullshit and am just NOW ready to get started.