Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This one's for the girls

At the risk of exposing my musical tastes (and innate sappiness), I have a confession to make. Whenever I hear Martina McBride's This One's For the Girls, I tear up. I'm so not kidding. I'm not even a country girl--I prefer The Killers to Carrie Underwood --and I couldn't tell you another song that Martina McBride sings. But, this song has always made me want to link arms with women everywhere, celebrating how much we share in common: the broken hearts, the high dreams: reality ratio period, our struggles to find ourselves. You're beautiful the way you are. See. There I go again. (NB: for all of you who have never heard this song, I suggest playing the YouTube video linked above but just listening; the video kind of weirds me out. Who directed that thing?)

It's with this background that I write this post, a post I've had in mind for awhile now and directed to all of you in your 20's.

What I wish I knew in my 20's: it gets so. much. better.

When I was in my 20's, I remember thinking that this must be my peak age. Bone mass and fertility peak...it must all go downhill from here. I had no reason to believe it shouldn't. I steadied myself for a future of decline in all respects.

Now, comfortably past the mid-way mark of my 30s, I would never trade being in my 20s again for now. Now is awesome. With time, the insecurities, the not knowing myself, have gradually slipped away. I feel more powerful, confident, and, yes, comfortable in my skin than ever before. With time, I know me, accept me, in ways that the younger, more stronger-boned and fertile me could never have imagined. Plus, now there is a growing family - and the joy and richness that brings, a more mature (and ever stronger) relationship with my husband, and a satisfying career on a path that I'm setting, not anyone else. The 30s rock.

And, I have a suspicion, and a hope, that it just keeps getting better. Perhaps "all you girls about forty-two" could chime in...
There's no need to fear growing older, MiMs. Look forward to it. The best is yet to come.


  1. I was just complaining to my mom about how if these are the best days of my life (I'm 21), I'm a little nervous to see what's to come, and she told me the same thing. Since I went to an absolutely lovely all-girls' high school, I feel like the worst of high school and college is being crammed into these four years. I'm all about living life to the fullest, but there are nights where I wish I was Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30 (though I guess that's the opposite of the moral of that movie).

  2. I was thinking the other day about my early 20s and what a horrible waste of three years I had back then, what with the horrible boyfriend and horrible job and horrible everything. So yes, it gets so much better. Every year past 25 has been a continuous uphill march.

    Thanks for posting this. I was beginning to forget that this happens to lots of people besides just me.

  3. My father always says that the 40s are the best years. Because your career is more settled, your kids are older and not as much work, but you're not so old that your body is breaking down.

  4. Yes on 30's! Finally getting back to me. I'm solidly past the mid-mark, and hope that when I get to 40 in 2.5 years, I can settle into what Fizzy's father boasts are the best.

    My 20's were a complete nightmare. But I got to where I am today, which is a pretty great place to be.

  5. 20's for me were both emotionally uplifting, exhilarating, and horrific, meeting my husband but losing my father. And as I near the end of my 30's all is on a beautiful trajectory with family and career and old/some new friends. Thanks for the post, and the suggestion of the song, I'll have to check it out (and will no doubt cry).

  6. By they way, country is not my favorite musical genre, but being from Arkansas, I have much exposure. I don't know a lot of Martina - watched your song for first time tonight and liked it (agree with you on the video - doesn't it suck when a video ruins a song?). Her song Anyway, the only other one I know, gives me goosebumps.

  7. yes, yes, YES!
    couldn't agree more. I used to hear women in their 40s saying they felt more confident, more comfortable in their own skin etc, and (now embarassed to admit) i thought it was false bravado. not so! i am forty, a mother, a grandmother and a final year med student and i have never felt happier, fitter, more capable than now. I don't sweat the small stuff and i think that's the key. all the petty agonies of youth are gone and i can just *be* in the world.
    thanks for writing this post KC, life is good

  8. Totally agree with you! In every respect, family-wise, career-wise, marriage-wise, I am so much more at ease and happy in my own skin than I was in my teens or 20s. The only downer of my 30s is that I have stiff knees after I sit "criss-cross-applesauce" as it's now known for too long with my kids on the floor to play cards and games. Guessing I wouldn't have had that if I'd had them 10 yrs earlier. Of course, if I'd had them 10 yrs earlier, they be about to start lifting off out of the nest. And I'd miss them. I wouldn't change a thing!

  9. Isn't anyone afraid of dying? Don't you wonder how you will die? How much it will hurt?

  10. 40 going on 41 and loving it. I wasn't married til 30, started my first "real" attending job at 31, had my first baby at 32. The 30's were awesome but I still felt like I was striving. Now I am comfortable in my skin and where I am. Martina Mcbride is awesome.

  11. Thank you KC. Thank you, thank you. I have just started my specialist training - it will give me so many options for the future. I have a wonderful partner, a home to live in... everything I ever hoped for. I assumed this was as good as it gets.

    Right now, I'm not happy. Thank you for opening my mind to the idea, very sensible, that this is not the highlight of my life!

  12. [sniff, sniff] Thank you. You made me cry.

    I'm 29 (30 in August) and feel completely lost. I'm about to embark on a career change (from journalism to some form of medical) because I think I'm learning more and more about myself. But it's scary and I feel ... well, lost. This gives me hope and encouragement. :)

  13. Indira- I would say, don't be in a hurry to grow older...but know that you can look forward to growing in many senses, and that what may be important to you know may change in the future. It's exciting.

    oldmdgirl - I also think back to how much I stressed about things that didn't matter - the perspective gained with time is so wonderful. And I also had a few terrible years in there - glad those are behind us and that we can grow from that.

    Fizzy- not quite looking forward to body breaking down but hopefully still have some serious years ahead before that happens...and hopefully I'll face that gracefully. I have a friend who is a few years older than me and just ran her first 5 K and felt exhiliarated.

    Gizabeth- they had to happen to make us who we are- I'm thankful for those struggles and serious heartaches. I've different and better because of them. The video: hurts to watch. The dancing! Yikes.

    T- Sorry your 20s had such tragedy mixed with happiness. I know you are stronger for it. I hope you listened to the song...

    anon - "all the petty agonies of youth are gone and i can just *be* in the world." YES. Totally. Petty agonies of youth. Exactly. I love that we can grow like that, becoming our most authentic self.

    tempeh- stiff knees notwithstanding, glad you wouldn't change a thing. I think, with growing older, we become more at peace with all of our choices, whatever they may be.

    anon2 - Dying can happen at any moment - fear of that probably a topic for a different day and different blog.

    milk and two sugars- while I don't think happiness comes automatically with time, I think certain things do...like perspective, sense of self/identity development, finding our inner voice, and also the courage to change things that are not making us happy... adding to our contentment with where we are in life. I hope this is soon true for you too.

    Beth- So glad to hear that you have hope and encouragement. Fabulous that you are following your heart, as scary as that may be. I think that can only lead to a more sustaining and satisfying future for you. =) Good luck!

  14. Oh my GOODNESS do I agree with this post, even though depending on where KC is in her thirties, it is possible that I am old enough to be her mother, at least biologically!

    I am in my early fifties and have more fun now than ever. I haven't felt this way since prior to menarche when I was a sassy little competative horsewoman!

    My children are grown and I am enjoying the fruits of grandmotherhood. I don't have PMS or cramps, and don't have those ugly "period day" panties in my undies drawer. I am exactly where I want to be in my career (I am an RN in a faculty position) I have been happily married to my HS sweetie for 32 years. I no longer give a rodent's rump about the opinions of others regarding my worth as a human being. I have absolute trust in the God I have worshipped all these years.

    Is it all roses and sunshine? Nope. I ache in lots of places and all my visible body parts jiggle. I am fat but fit and if anyone doesn't approve...too bad. My lipid profile and BP ROCK anyway. I will never take a 1500 lb horse over a four foot jump again. The ankle I broke in '99 makes me limp at the end of the day. Sex is rarer, but better. I know that one can be quite ill and return to normal. And I am totally not afraid to die, only of pain....hich is why I have Advance Directives. And although far from wealthy, I have everything I need and a huge chunk of what I want.

    If I could talk to my 26 year old self, I would give her some Xanax and tell her she is doing great, but that she needs to chill out and relax. I would also tell her that those stretch marks? They ain't EVER going away, so live with it, already! ;-)

    Pattie, RN

  15. I'm 42 exactly. It's the best age yet. My career is really settled and I love it. One kid dresses himself and they both sleep through the night, thank God. My husband is amazing, my rock and the light of my life.

    I had a lot of fun in my 20s, did a lot of traveling and had some fun in graduate school. Still, the worry! The worry about money, about finding the right guy, about being sufficiently cool. Sheesh, what a lot of wasted energy. Now money isn't so much of an issue, I've got the right guy, and at some point I got much too busy to fret about cool.

  16. KC -- Just to clarify, I don't think I was stressed out about things that didn't matter in my 20s. My life actually sucked. The things I was stressed out about mattered a lot. I spent my late 20s fixing them, and now my life doesn't suck anymore. Ergo I am happier.

  17. Pattie- so great to hear. I think the wisdom gained greatly compensates for the possible added jiggles.

    anon- thank you. You are awesome. Glad my suspicion was right.

    oldmdgirl- wasn't saying you were - just admitting that I certainly was stressed over all kinds of things, both trivial and life-altering. Glad those times are past.

  18. What does your pregnant reader do when prompted to listen to that song by you? Cry like a baby. You're worse than a Hallmart commercial at Christmas.

    I heartily agree with you on the 30s rocking better than the 20s. Sure, my midsection was hotter then but everything else is like a zillion times better. Thank goodness for great families, friends...and Spanx.

  19. I'm in my 29's still, but don't quite feel it as I've been married almost 10 years and have an 8 and a 6 year old. Regardless, I'm looking forward to my 30's when my age might match my life a bit better!


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