When I was young, I would look at older women with their round bodies and flabby upper arms and think how ‘grandmotherly’ they looked and swore I would never look like that. Now I know that there isn’t a whole lot I can do about my body shape; the flabby arms; and no way am I ‘grandmotherly’ even though I have three grandchildren.
When I was a young woman, I thought getting married, settling down, having kids, was the be-all and end-all of my existence. It wasn’t. During the marriage, having to support the family, going through living with an addicted personality and the pathological lying, I wondered what I had been thinking. I was raised in the time when women weren’t supposed to have a career, be good at math and science, or be anything other than a nurse or a teacher while waiting for a proposal. Now I know how wrong that all was for me.
When I was around forty, I decided to go to college for the first time. My counselor at the Junior College told me there was no way I could go to school full-time, work full-time, and get decent grades. He was a young 20-something who looked like he was still in school himself. And he was wrong. After I graduated from Junior College, I went on to University, and earned a BA and an MA.
Perspective changes depending on where you are. As a young child, I couldn’t imagine being the age of my grandmother. But here I am. I couldn’t imagine not being married and having a family, because that’s what was expected of me. Looking back, I know I was good at math and science and sometimes wish I had had the fortitude to do what I wanted to do instead of what was expected of me. I don’t regret my marriage; it gave me my two sons and eventually their children. And it taught me about who I am and how much I can endure. During that time, I began to grow and emerge from the shell I had built around myself as protection. I opened myself up to new knowledge, new experiences.
After my divorce, I didn’t know how to redefine myself. I was in grad school at the time, and all my classmates were the same age as my sons. There wasn’t anyone my age to talk to who would understand. But I made it through. In the years since then, with a lot of reflection, reading, listening, I like who I have become. I don’t live my life the way I’m expected to live it by those around me. I live my life for me. I do what I like to do because it makes me happy. I learn what I want to learn and will share my knowledge and wisdom with anyone who wants it.
I am not perfect and probably never will be. I continue to grow and change and learn. And that’s all any of us can ask for.