Its not liberating to walk freely in a path that is chosen for you.
The Fallacy of Youth
We had gone through thick and thin together as clueless teenagers, then as young women seeking our place in the world in our early 20’s, and finally in our late 30’s early 40’s carving a path fueled by our experience and collective wisdom. Looking back at our youthful naiveté we thought we possessed, an indestructible power. We could take over the world, and all be damned. We conquered all that we had set out to do, even through this false sense of security, we would accomplish anything we set our minds on. Yet now we realize it’s not always the case; we didn’t have all the answers, as we so painfully discovered along this path to maturity and growth.
I’m reminded of a young woman I knew; she had her pick of men in her late teens early twenties. They were disposable to her and at the flick of her long brown hair, she would leave them as quickly as they would appear. She had no remorse, no care for their feelings. Sometimes these men came into her life to fix her or repair her in some way, but soon discovered that their interference wasn’t welcome, and were left with their hearts broken and their anger intact. She wasn’t frivolous with her feelings, she was cut throat and knew what she wanted.
Her life was not easy, she had many misfortunes and tragedies at a very young age, losing her father from cancer, at the tender age of 14, finally settling at her family home with her newly widowed mother and her sister, trying to find a base, and an anchor. When her mother remarried, she found comfort in her new family, finding some stability, a safe space. Yet still she was restless, and wild she had a fire that could not be quenched. I envied her, I wanted to be just like her.
She wanted to escape the expectations others had of her. Marry, have children be an obedient wife, and be like so many of the women in her family, but she didn’t subscribe to these rules. I remember idealizing this woman this unabashed and free person who did as she pleased, not fully knowing whether this was something I wanted for myself. I had to fall in love with every boy I met, I had to be normal, I had to be obedient. Until I discovered later that, the persona I was so desperately trying to fit in to, was my noose.
We grew apart, she started her own business, met many men, had affairs and did as she pleased. Free, bad ass, independent, take no bullshit. I studied dance, and followed my dream to be a choreographer, I wrote poetry, I was an artist. I fell in love with men, I cried over them, I created art for them and kept looking for the one. As everyone around me slowly got married, had kids, settled down, I just couldn’t subscribe to that kind of ideology. Not because I didn’t want it for myself, but because I wanted to write that story differently, with my pen; instead of accepting a pre-approved script. Finding that true voice was more important to me than obeying convention, and looking happy for a picture on a mantle.
My dear friend and I connected again after my separation from a long drawn out relationship with a man 14 years my senior. He had taught me a lot, but inevitably I was no longer in love with him, and truthfully neither was he. I was sitting in her living room, having moved out of the home I shared with my partner, and picking up the pieces of my life when I realized, while holding her then 1-year-old daughter on my lap, that she had done all of it, while following her own rule book. She was with an amazing man who was six years younger, she had a beautiful daughter who was the light of her life and she had her own home. She had chosen to create a family with this man, not because she had to but because she wanted to and it was beautiful.
A few years later her son was born and the wild woman who defied all, was a mother of two amazing children. Yet still her fire, her absolution, her redemption was that she shed all that was expected of her and did exactly what she wanted. I see her daughter; approximately the same age as my friend when we first met, and she is exactly like her mother, that mischievous sparkle in her eye, the same creativity and playfulness but in her own way. Now I see that her daughter will grow up to be an incredible woman. She has her own convictions, her own ideas and her own thoughts about how life should be. She is part of this new generation of women and men who will shed expectations and gender norms to find their own path in life, burning through the old handbooks that kept us bound to unattainable and ridiculous norms, and I’m incredibly proud of her and her mom.
A Real woman-
A real woman gets married, a real woman does what her husband tells her, a real woman paints her toenails, puts on the good dress, and acts all proper because why should she walk out of the house unkempt and without make up, even though she’s exhausted and has no time to be a barbie doll. A real woman has kids or else she’s not whole. A real woman can’t possibly have a career and a family. A real woman doesn’t sacrifice her family life for travel, career advancement or ambition. She will be alone, forgotten, and useless, if she doesn’t perform her duties as expected. A real woman doesn’t have dreams beyond her finely crafted role in society, and if she dare break away from that role, she’s seen as a bitter, unfulfilled misfit. And shame on her if she doesn’t get it all done before dinner time, because then she really doesn’t have it together. I’ve seen countless women who struggle to confine themselves into those labels placed upon them, trying to be perfect in every aspect of their lives, and never realizing what id behind door No. 2.
Shedding the norm, releasing the status quo, cuts the old ideology, patriarchy and rotten gender identity to its core.
Because let’s be honest, why would you want to aspire to anything else than what others construct for you? It’s a finely laid out trap that snaps shut each time we sniff at the proverbial cheese. We all buy into it, we all think it’s just best that way. Why push boundaries, why take the road less traveled? Why seek a life that is glorious and unbound, for something comfortable, understood and accepted by those who have no imagination beyond the cartoonish life they have chosen for themselves; yet this is not the movies, its real life. Its not liberating to walk freely in a path that is chosen for you.
What I see in the women and hopefully the men of this new generation, is an evolved way of thinking. Those who define themselves, and accept no one else’s definition of them. Who aren’t #lit, #queens, #woke #badass and don’t #slay, because that’s still a label, made for them. What makes us unique, shining examples of women in this world, is our choice.
Feminism is about choice. If you choose to have a family and be a mother and a housewife that is a choice you can make because others have paved the path for you with blood sweat and tears. If you choose to have an abortion it is because, a brave woman named Margaret Sanger made it possible for women to get access to birth control and safe family planning. If you choose to travel the world, run your own company, and be a CEO; you can because you have a choice. Shedding the norm, releasing the status quo, cuts the old ideology, patriarchy and rotten gender identity to its core. We are no longer fitting into a mold built by men, we are not building one at all. Young men and women have an incredible opportunity to break away from these shackles of supposed social structures, and instead of being pushed into another category, they create one of their own and are gloriously unapologetic for it.
And that’s a real woman.