As a woman pushing on thirty years of age, I often struggle with the idea that in regards to life expectations– I am behind, flawed & lacking. I am behind in starting my ideal career, finding a spouse & having children before I hit the age of thirty. The pressures of societal timelines often imposed on women can nurture feelings of self-doubt & inadequacy which then breed a disappointing phenomenon— settling.
It is no surprise that by our thirties, women are expected to have established our careers, secure a large enough salary to purchase our dream home, while contributing equally to a stable family that is composed of a handsome spouse with 3 happy & healthy children. The medical field reminds us that our clocks are ticking. The closer & further into our thirties we choose to have a baby the more health risks we impose on both ourselves & our offspring. It appears that a woman approaching &/or in her thirties with no spouse or children & still trying to pursue a career is viewed as an anomaly. According to societies standards, a two-way path has been placed in front of us to choose from:
A choice that apparently is best pursued by our thirties. If not, then we have failed to reach societies standard of success. But regardless of the initial path we have chosen, we must somehow accomplish both by the end of your twenties. But how? How can the whole population of women be expected to accomplish so much in such little time when such a large majority of women in & outside of this age group are still trying to find their true selves?
With the verbal & non-verbal expectations that are imposed on women, it is important that we keep motivating & like-minded people around us. People that can truly empathize with our struggle, relate to our story, can understand our dreams &/or can speak from experience. Their presence helps deflect the pressures imposed by society’s meddling impositions about our lives. In some shape or form, we all share the same objectives: to live our lives how we choose to. In forming a united front, this unity will help combat your insecurity & assist in encouraging your self acceptance. For this purpose alone, having like-minded individuals has served to be a major benefit to me. Despite the fact that many of my friends are encouraging & remind me to take my time & to pursue my hearts’ true desires, I still wonder if I have chosen the “right” path-
Instead of laying down the bricks of a family foundation right away, I chose the career track. On this path, I pursued & obtained an Associates, Bachelors and two Masters degrees. Despite my accomplishments, I have yet to rest my feet on the soil of my ideal career & have yet to set my eyes on the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, let alone have children with. Sometimes, when I sit alone, I reflect. I wonder if I have done something wrong as many of my friends are married, have had long-standing relationships &/or have happy & healthy children in grade school. They are amazing parents that are now running their own businesses or working in their preferred careers. Now that their children are older & have gained some degree of independence, they are now able to work on their own successes. But that is not to say that they do not or have not had these experiences as I am sure, even as being young parents, they have & still currently face the same “societal shortcomings” as I do, if not more. Though, they have had their own struggles, on the outside looking in, one can easily forget that they too are forced to deal with societal imposed suggestions that include how society tells them to raise their children.
Despite the encouraging words from loved ones & my belief that I pursued the path designed specifically for me society, nonetheless, imposes its meddling “concerns”–
“Honey, is there a special man in your life?”
“Do you think you wanna have babies soon?”
“When are you going to get a job in your field?”
“When are you going to start working on your family?”
“Don’t you want any children?”
“Why are you taking so long?”
“Don’t you feel lonely sometimes?”
“Don’t you think your standards are too high?”
“Aren’t you ready to buy your own home?”
“What do you plan to do with all those degrees?”
“If you had to get them, why aren’t you using them?”
“What are you still doing working here?”
“What’s taking you so long?”
“Having a slow start aren’t you?”
And my favorite:
“Those degrees won’t bring you a family!”
From my experience, this is only the beginning of the invasive questions & comments. They become more intrusive & more inappropriate as these meddlesome people become more comfortable. It is these very “concerns” that will have you questioning your self-worth & wondering if something is wrong with you.
So, today, for the sake of our sanity, it is time to be realistic & shine some light to this outdated way of thinking. For starters, most people do not find their passions in their field of study & many people do not utilize their debt imposed degrees. The way the job market is set up, unfortunately, many of us are under paid & have to seek employment where we fit in. Often, through life experiences obtained after college, we find passions in other sectors of our lives even though society told us since youth that we HAD to go to college or pursue education outside of a high school diploma. Secondly, NO your standards are NOT too high. Your standards are right where they need to be. Someone being your husband & the father of your children is a process. It is a job that once there is a commitment, a two-week resignation letter will not suffice when things get too complicated. So allow yourself to work through your process as you should work through it, without society’s opposition. You will not & should not settle because THEY have decided you are taking too long to meet some time line they have forced on your life. It is important to remember that what is for you, is for you & your time will come. Your season will come but not by anyone else’s standard. These are the very things you have to tell yourself when you start to question your life decisions. Make them your mantra. Self reflect but do not settle below your standards because someone else has said you should. That will only serve as a disservice to yourself & the family &/or individuals you have settled for. You have waited this long, there is no benefit in rushing & living with regret. Your main priority is YOU! Thrive off of what makes you happy. Find acceptance, find ambition & passion in what you very well please. Let your own conclusions be the determinant of how you execute the happy ending or pursuit of your life. No one can dictate that but you!
Judge Lynn Toler gave an amazing reminder of how the twenties of a woman should be–
“Twenty is for you. Twenty is for growth. Twenty is for a pursuit of a tomorrow that is better than today. Twenty is for options. Twenty is for passion and knowledge and enjoyment. It is not a time for continuous compromise…Twenty is for firing dudes when they don’t act right. Twenty is for figuring out what you like in certain men. Twenty is for finding out what kind of different men are out there. Finding out which ones you want to keep or which ones you want to discard…Twenty is for opportunity to move upward, forward— Get a large life, so even if a dude (or kids) doesn’t end up in it, you still enjoy it.”
So, want to find the source of your insecurity or your uncertainty? Society. We have allowed society to tell us what we should or should not do. We have allowed society to dictate our life. We have allowed society to tell us that if we do not have a husband, if we do not have children, if we do not have a career that something is wrong with us. But in fact there is something wrong with society & its inability to think forward. We are in an era of liberation for women. Women know there are options available aside from being a wife & mother. Some women may want to take their time, work on themselves, work on pursuing a suitable career & want to work on building a solid foundation with a perspective spouse. Others just may not want children or a husband at all & that is ok. As women we need to accept this. We need to accept there is nothing wrong with us if we have not started our career yet, if we have not found a suitable husband or if we are unsure if we even want children. In time, as they always do, the pieces of the puzzle will fall in place when it is supposed to. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves & combat the idea that being a wife & having children are linked to femininity. We have to ignore the idea that we must have a career & that these things must be done within a certain time frame.
*jumps & shouts simultaneously*
It is ok to be in your thirties not knowing where life is taking you. Life is a learning process. Who decided we have to get it right the first time? Who made society & those not living our lives or experiencing our experiences the boss our lives? We did. We did so by allowing people to ask those meddling questions. We did so, by providing answers to the questions we loathe so much. We did so by allowing those questions to bother us & by letting them play over & over in our heads when we age another year or do not reach a set goal. The truth is conglomerates, people are going to talk regardless. Wouldn’t you prefer to live your life & dictate what they talk about instead of the opposite way around? That is a promised & sure way to ensure your happiness; to live your life your way. If things go south, if things do not turn out the way you want it to, they will still talk, provide suggestions of what you should have done & fail to take accountability for what they suggested you do in the first place. So it is better to do it your way. Do this & keep in mind that the problem is not you, it is with them & their inability to live their own lives.
Therefore, Conglomerates, I encourage you to keep living your BEST life however you choose to live that BEST LIFE.
After all, it is yours to live.
How has other people’s opinions on your life effected you? How did you respond to societal impositions? How has it made you feel? Have you made decisions based on these pressure that you wish you would have done differently now?