I just turned 27. That’s too dangerously close to 30 for my liking. But the woman I want to become doesn’t find the three and the zero scary. She finds them strange shapes that amount to nothing. I don’t want numbers and limits and wrinkles and ex-husbands and failures and what-if-kids to be scary. The world is inherently frightening. But thinking of the woman I could become, a woman of strength, a woman I chose of my own volition, a woman I’ve created, eases my fear. At 27, am I any different than the 8-year-old drama queen obsessed with dress up and make believe? When did things start to change? When I started to become the chubby insecure 9-year-old kid instead of the blonde cutie who received wistful unending stares from the freckled boy in math class? The wistful unending stares slowly died down. My security grew smaller as my body grew bigger. I was hitting womanhood but not nearly in the way I imagined I would.
These insecurities have come and gone through my life and have been appeased through the realization that few of us go without them. And so I made a list, a list I doubt I will ever finish. A list of things I need to do to become the woman I think I’m meant to be. Some of them come easy, others are like a blind trip through a mine field. So here they are. I’m letting myself off the hook for not getting there yet because I still believe I will one day. We’re not the sum of our mistakes, or the things we’ve failed to accomplish yet in our lives, whether we’re teens, twenties, or beyond. We’re not that passing failure or that present doubt. We’re the measure of commitment to take agency against those addictive paradigms that drag us down, replacing them with things that lift us up.
The list (so far):
1.) Take what you want without hurting others.
3.) You are not obligated to talk to strangers, but if they seem sweet, why not?
4.) Always tell your mom you love her too after she says it on the phone, even if you’re grumpy and mumbly.
5.) Try to be patient even though you are incredibly impatient.
6.) Don’t let the looming future control your peace of mind.
7.) Say no when you want to say no. It’s your right.
8.) Be ashamed of the silly things you’ve done in the past, but let yourself off the hook.
9.) It’s okay to have regrets. “No regrets”? No chance. Reflect on your regrets. Turn them into bad poetry.
10.) If it’s written on a fridge magnet, it’s probably BS.
11.) Your grandmother might disagree with you on a hundred fundamentals but she’s still got wisdom coming out of her ears. Take it in.
12.) Your sisters and brother aren’t perfect, and neither are you. It’s okay to love them as much as you can without worrying what you get in return.
13.) Be kinder to your dad. He doesn’t know how to say it but he wants the very best for you. Help him find those words.
14.) Keep a clean and tidy house. It will make you feel better to treat yourself better.
15.) Do something creative every day. You know your potential and you are scared of it. Push past that fear. Surround yourself with inspiration. Accept that you’ll most likely have to make something bad before you can make something good.
16.) Exercise, eat healthy. Your body and mind are all you have. Treat them as such. Try swimming every day, like Little Edie.
17.) Let jealousy flow over you. It’s a useless, poisonous emotion. Push it away as fast as you can.
18.) Stay stylish as you grow old. Revel in the fun things and never let them pass.
19.) Make a home that fills you with warmth.
20.) Don’t lose your sense of humour or your edge. Keep being just a little bit of an asshole.
21.) Be tough.
22.) It’s okay to feel lonely.
23.) It’s okay to wonder why you may never have that core group of inseparable friends that you see on TV.