Or, to paraphrase John Lennon: “I am (s)he as you are (s)he as you are me and we are all together.”
In other words, you identify. That’s what we’ve found in many of the thoughtful comments that rolled in over the past few weeks, either on our blog or Facebook. (Ahem. Are you a fan?) Here’s a taste of the backchat:
Midlife Crisis, For Her clearly touched a chord:
At some point, people have to grow up and realize that the TWENTIES are the time to try out new identities such as career changes and traveling-the-world without a care etc., and then once you turn 30 it’s time to face the music. At some point it really DOES become “too late for a new beginning”, and until humans gain an ability to live 9 lives, we have to accept that some doors will have to be closed forever because there is just no time left. It’s true that life does pass you by, we are on this earth for only a blink of an eye. During my 20s I lived in various cities (Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C.) and traveled to nearly 30 countries, and I shopped like mad following all the latest fashions and explored various “career ideas”, job-hopping every couple of years. I DID pay a price for my youthful restlessness, for example professionally I’m at the level of people who are nearly a decade younger than I am, and my salary level is far beneath other 30-something professionals who did the “straight-line-career-track” direct out of college. Still, those freeliving years of my 20s were absolutely essential for me to have lifelong satisfaction and no regrets, and I wish more women could really use their twenties to explore these different lifestyles/identities so that they wouldn’t suffer from “the grass is greener” syndrome. Everybody would love to live forever, everybody laments growing older, but being a Grown-Up means you don’t cry over things you can’t change, you make the best of it. Women can’t change the fact that our Fertility is limited, and the fact that we’re eventually going to die, and NO we can’t all “be anything you want”. That sucks, but that’s life, and it’s pointless to cry over the facts of life. — Crystal
I just turned 30, and I find it depressing to think that just because I reached a certain age, whatever i happen to be doing right now, is what i’m gonna do for the rest of my life. I am an attorney and my twenties were spent by a mixture of going to school, traveling, working, and most recently 2000 miles away from home doing field work for the Obama campaign with a bunch of 19-22 year olds, and now I am back to working as an attorney. I don’t do things to get them out of my system because I’ll have to stop one day, once I turn X age or once I have kids, I do them because the opportunities arise and if I can make them fit into my life, I do. I don’t see why that has to change once I turn a certain age or have children. I think a lot of the reason people are afraid to have kids or wait so long to do it, is this notion that once you have kids, you have to stop doing anything that you ever wanted to do for yourself. I, for one, have no intention of throwing in the towel on living life now, when I have children, or ever. — Colleen
And, just to show that Undecided welcomes comments from all genders:
You are a fantastic writer and I look forward to seeing your stories like this one. Insightful, positive, balanced, and a thing that makes you say hmmmm. This undivorced, non-corvette owning, non-young girlfriend toting 3-2-1 Contact fan completely related to your story despite the gender difference. Great work as usual! – John
A related post, Choosing the Iconic Self, also hit home:
You have the details down, except for that you promoted grandpa. He was a sea captain – there was no wealth but they had a comfortable life and prominence in the small town. And I think you are right. I remember when my nephews were young my sister in law told me she was really careful about telling them they were “good” when they had done something good. She said that you have to tell them that their drawing is good, or whatever, so they don;t think it’s THEIR value that gets determined by what they achieve. I was super impressed by that. And, thinking back, I assume the reason I was impressed was that the idea was new to me. Myself I was likely taught that my value was in the drawing, so to speak — Lotta K.
I really appreciate this post. I’ve definitely thought about these things, especially in the three years since graduating from SCU as I made a major career switch. I came to realize the unrealisticness of some of the aspirations I had — whether they were dreams I had since I was young or newly set outlandish goals. Also there were some aspirations that I thought, oh that would be great, but I’m really not willing to do what it takes to get there. It’s not what I wanted to do after all. I couldn’t find the words for how I was feeling as I was struggling with all this, and I definitely don’t think that I’m in tune with my authentic self…but I hope that I can say that I’m on the way — Nicole L.
All of it’s right. Every bit you say. We are drawn to an ideal and then we try to fit ourselves to the notion. My dream: to be an actress and writer. Years later, after having done both in a really small way, marriage and children came along. One reason I got divorced was that I didn’t fit in with his family’s ideal of what a ‘wife’ should be. It may have been my love of baseball combined with my male gay friends that made them uncomfortable. So I left and moved with my kids to a small western town. Where my kids grew up to be those kind you mention. Anything is possible. Their reality is lack of money from the home front and all fringe dwellers will understand this. Grinding poverty is the ultimate reality. In the meantime. I write for a living and act, occasionally even being paid to do it. But yet, it nags because that’s what people do…second guess and nag themselves over the road not taken, the poor judgment calls, the missed opportunities. Who would I have been….could I have been if only…. — Dana
Love this post! I wonder if some of our frustration is about the fact that it’s virtually impossible to excel at everything–wife, writer, teacher, runner in my case–and so we’re always worried about the area in which we’re not measuring up to our own expectations? — Katie
Holding Up Half the Sky stirred stuff up as well:
The neglect of children (and fetuses) because they are female, always astounds me, no matter how often I hear about it. What stories like these show us is that women’s rights are not a foregone conclusion; they are something we must struggle for together. H. Clinton put it so well at the Beijing Conference in 1995 when she said women’s rights are human rights. How do we respond to countries who blatantly disregard human rights? Yet perhaps we ignore women’s rights? And it takes special issues of media, in honor of women’s equality day, to bring these issues into sharper relief. Thanks for offering this summary of some of the issues that the NYT addressed on Sunday. — Austen
I recall talking to a friend about the article. What definitely struck me is how they think women leading the world would lessen war, etc.
“Q: If women ran the world, would wars still exist?
A: No. It would be a better, safer, and more productive world. A woman would bring an extra dimension to that task-and that’s a sensitivity to humankind. It comes from being a mother.”
It’s saying women are different from men, which I don’t think is true (we are socially programmed to think and behave differently; can’t really help it in a country where everything’s labeled blue or pink). People are capable of being great or horrible leaders, regardless of what biological sex they may be. In this piece, women are held up to a standard, so it’s a bit troubling. — Jeannie
Finally, our first guest post, Taking it Public, garnered its share of fan mail:
Excellent post. Especially enjoyed the comparison to Scandanavian countries. What a wonderful nation we would be if our politicians considered the needs of all citizens. More topics would be discussed, and more needs would be met. Great piece, would love to read more from Charlotta! — T.J.
Hi Charlotta, great post, I enjoyed it a lot, and agree with you in everything, although I can’t help wonder if Universities, outside of humanities, med/communication and arts has as high a number of female students? I would be interested to see if that was the case in say, areas of economic studies and technology, for example. I have to say that althoug I am an avid Obama fan I am also a Swede, a Mother, a Wife and all things related and very disapointed in the lack debate there is around matters concerning The Family. I wonder of these matters are still considered being “women’s issues” and therefor not as high on the agenda as other matters. Lack of affordable child-care and parental leave, equal pay etc, etc, are not only women’s issues, they are concerning men AND women and we need to understand that and start a valid debate sround these issues if we are going to break away from a very old-fashioned belief in a homogenous family structure. — Cecilia
Keep the conversations going. Catch you all tomorrow.