Adulting On Your Terms

Adulting:

 1. to behave in an adult manner; engage in activities associated with adulthood

2. to make someone behave like an adult; turn someone into an adult

I’m looking forward to getting older. I’ve never been afraid of it. Physically I look younger than my age and always have so if vanity does play a part in the fear of aging I suppose I have decent enough genes that I’m not too concerned with it. For me growing older means, reaching milestones, making memories, giving into fewer anxieties and being more comfortable with myself. I find that when people are on the verge of thirty they begin romanticizing their tumultuous twenties. And don’t get me wrong, I like to think back on times to see how far I’ve come and reminisce about fun experiences but I don’t think any time in a persons life is more important than the present because it is the malleable time we have now that can change things, not some fixed foggy memory far out of reach. A memory can be visited, the present can be lived. 

A fun and exciting youth is ultimately unsustainable, and hopelessly clinging to it only separates you from the inherent joys of aging. And so, to accept growing up with a healthy mindset I think its important to let go of the past without letting go of ourselves. This is where people tend to get lost.In the process of growing into adulthood, they stop having fun, they give up making time for their hobbies, they take themselves too seriously, they stop nurturing long time friendships. As if a vital, important chunk of who we are and always have been is no longer necessary in our adult lives. But you can’t evolve with only part of what makes you who you are.

Its infuriating to see my peers drop out of their true selves in order to become adults. They go from their twenties to their thirties simply checking off one step after the other. As if at around twenty-five some dull, unimaginative writer has taken control of penning their stories. College, career, marriage, home ownership, children and on and on.

Landing a big job, getting married or becoming a parent will not give us any sense of fulfillment if we simply go through the motions of achieving them only to let them become the sole titles by which we define ourselves. A homeowner, a mom, a dad, an entrepreneur, a big wig attorney. Why can’t an adult “milestone” be reached without allowing it to take precedence over the person/people that have gotten there. You are not what you do for a living,  or your marital status, you are first and foremost an individual human being. We can’t lose sight of that. If you are blind to yourself, who are you aiming to please?

Growing into adulthood as a women sometimes feels like there is an additional story line that can be written for you if you let it. There seems to have been a shift from “women can do anything ” to “women should do everything” and I think that comes from coming of age in a generation raised by women with mostly traditional ideals of femininity who were part of the first big wave of women getting college degrees and entering industries previously dominated by men. They paved the way and now we are left to normalize it, to push the needle further. Not to just sit at the table but to be appointed to sit at the head of the table and be seen as intellectually equal. 

Our grandmothers and mothers generations are not reflective of our progressive dreams and aspirations and many of us land some where in the middle of traditional womanhood and modern feminism. We are trying to obtain a sense of equality that has never existed before and so we don’t know how to get there.We are the new modern women of our times and we have more options than we have ever had and that is a good thing! Except it can backfire because whatever you choose as your path as a woman, someone will deem it inadequate. That’s where settling enters for women. Maybe career ambitions start to be clouded by pressure to marry, or have a family. But why? The “can women have it all?” conversation that is perpetrated by the media and by women themselves needs to be changed. Just because we can fill many roles as modern women doesn’t mean we have to. That is the beauty of it; choice. Society needs to catch up and so do we all. I used to fear that I would have to compromise a part of me in order to fulfill an aspect of adulthood, except that’s not true. No one has to, we can choose what not to do and what to do and when to do it!

Don’t worry about having it all whether you are a man or woman coming into adulthood, focus on having it your way, on your terms, whatever that means to you. 

On Feminism

Is it just me or is the “Are you a feminist?” question that’s been the trendy thing journalists seem to always ask women getting tired? I’m happy that feminism is a topic of discussion in the media but it’s the dialogue that follows this particular question that gets to me. Really the question is more like “Are you a feminist? If so please provide an easy to digest explanation as to how but don’t be too wishy washy about it or you’ll not be feminist enough but also don’t be too serious about it or you’ll come off as too intense!”
I once had a boyfriend laugh at me when I called myself a feminist. His response was something along the lines of “You? After the things you have done in your past?!” He was convinced that because I had been with other guys before him and, like most women do, had an often scantily clad hard partying phase in college that I couldn’t be a feminist. To him I was a used up, sad girl who should spend the rest of her days coming up with ways to make up for her salacious past. Perhaps he thought that being submissive to a not very respectful boyfriend was one of those ways. At the time I was deeply under his charms and I didn’t say anything although I knew he was wrong. If I could turn back time only to respond with Yes! Yes, I consider myself a feminist and part of why I do is precisely because I had a fairly full young women hood and I experienced learning just how to unapologetically own my sexuality while always maintaining the belief that I was the intellectual equal of my male peers and that the ways in which I chose to explore myself don’t define me and although there were plenty of missteps along the way and I may not be proud of it all I sure as hell don’t regret anything I did or didn’t do because it led me to the woman I am today and she’s a feminist!
A man believing he is the authority on what makes a woman a feminist…is not very feminist. I digress! The point is that being a feminist should not be a divisive thing that puts people in buckets. To me, a feminist is an equalist. But the word itself seems to invoke an array of things that has absolutely nothing to do with the main idea of being an equalist. A feminist is not just some caricature of a bra burner or a man hater or an aggressive  protester. These are just some of the general categories people tend to place feminists under and it’s a shame because it’s society wanting to simplify what it means to be a women and to be a women is NEVER simple regardless of how you express your feminist beliefs.
I’ve had the topic of feminism on my mind as of late since I read a piece in the New Yorker on Gloria Steinem. I think everyone should make the effort to read writings of and about modern feminists. The newsletter Lenny Letter created by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner is great! There is really something in there for all types of women. It’s well written and very funny. Lena Dunham’s been busy and has another new project, the podcast Women of the Hour that was released this past Fall. I also really enjoy Vogues Breathless column by Karley Sciortino (blogger of Slutever) who is incredibly cool and kind of a bad ass. Karley shares her personal life freely sometimes going one step farther and taking on the responsibility of making herself somewhat of a test subject in her often scandalous social experiments. There is a great conversation Karely has with podcaster Alexi Wasser on her Love Alexi podcast that I recommend listening to.

Please share with me your recommendations of feminist thinkers, writers, podcasters, artists etc!