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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I'm not 21, but I'm out of control

As the name may imply, Forever 21 is chocked full of outfits that scream "fashion victim," yet I could not turn away. The store is packed with clothes that are simply wonderful, sparkly, sassy, and skimpy. I felt right at home there this afternoon with Attorney Friend. I have the shopping bags and credit card bill to prove it.

It's so exciting to go into a store and get excited about clothing because I remember a time--not that long ago--when my wardrobe resembled Father in Chief's. Plaid shirts that button up the front, GAP jeans, polo shirts. I hated shopping for clothes, probably because I hated women's fashions. But it seems that femininity and sex appeal have returned to women's fashions, just as I have become a confidant women. I no longer blush when I'm introduced to new people. I no longer have to hide behind my hair because I'm afraid that what I might have said was stupid. Now I just don't care.

It's wonderful to have grown into my body, mentally and emotionally. I no longer feel awkward and insecure. I'm not trying to hide my breasts in a minimizer or camouflage my figure in men's overalls. I like my body!! My hair isn't perfect. My skin isn't perfect. There are many flaws that are magnified in my eyes. But they don't own me anymore.

And while I'm not 21, I can shop in a store that makes me feel good about the way I look. Amen! There is no way I'd want to be 21 again, but wearing the fashions of the young, is okay by me.

I actually like being 31. I liked being 30. I'm not shy, awkward, inexperienced (professionally or sexually), as I was when I was 21. I'm sure much of my confidence comes from being in a long-term, committed relationship and well a bit of experience with life.

So if I'm so damn confident in myself externally, why am I struggling internally?

I'm proud of my professional accomplishments. I'm proud of my personal accomplishments. But there is still a lot more I want to do. And the only thing I can figure is that I'm so critical of myself and I'm so down on myself and where I'm heading professionally, career-wise, is that it is something that I can control. When I put my mind to it, I can scrounge up some paying, meaningful work. It's all up to me and I can do it, when I work for it.

My professional life is the one area I can examine and supposedly can control (if I work really hard at it). I cannot control other parts of my life. There are other parts of my life that no matter how hard I work at them, things won't get any better or make a difference. For example, Toddler in Chief's health problems have unknown long-term implications. No matter what I do, those things will not change. I cannot control those things.

So instead of getting lost in those uncontrollable areas, I need to put that energy to use elsewhere, I imagine. And that comes back to me--and the things I can control. What am I doing wrong? How should I be cultivating my career, my aspirations for another degree? How could I be a better mother? Why do I want things for me when I should be doing things for TIC? For my family?

I just wish this internal battle was as easy to remedy as a drab wardrobe.


  1. I love this posting--congrats on turning 31 and what a great description of coming into one's own. I think that for us women, aging is actually so much better than it's cracked up to be, and what's missing in all the pressure is the clarity that we grow into! I'm a decade older than that now, but I remember how I felt at 31--finally confident, in so many ways, and yes--wearing all the clothes that terrified me at 20! And that was before I had my baby!

    Thanks for sharing with us all.

    Miriam, at PlaygroundRevolution,com

  2. I really like the way you described it -- your flaws no longer "own" you. I feel the same way. Sure, I'd like to be thinner, tanner, etc. -- but ever since having my baby, I no longer feel defined by how I perceive society thinks I SHOULD look. And that's a big change for me. Great post!

    I also completely identify with your frustrations about never feeling up to par when it comes to your career. There's always something more you could be doing to "advance it" -- in fact, one of the reasons I thought (emphasis on "thought") I would be happier working than staying home was because I know I crave structure and evaluation, and I was afraid if I stayed home I would tear myself apart mentally, always feeling that I should be writing a novel or starting a home business or doing something, ANYTHING, other than focusing on being a stay-at-home-Mom. And I'm not sure I was wrong about that, as your own experience attests! But you sound like you are doing a fantastic job being a mother, as well as launching your free-lance career. We are our own toughest competition, though, aren't we?

  3. Just a quick "late" comment to say that you're right, this store is great! I bought a skirt there a while back and I just loved what I saw there (you described it better than I ever could). My husband and I tend to joke that the older we get, the more we have to take care of ourselves in terms of hip clothes and hairstyles, etc. So I'll say I'm 34 going on "forever 21"...

    Oh, yeah, and also a quick [OK, it turned out longer than I expected, sorry :)] belated comment on your previous entry. Feeling sexy, wearing make up, taking care of oneself doesn't make anyone a bad mama! (on the contrary, a woman who feels "whole" - even if divided in this wholeness - will most likely be a better mother). I'd say that perhaps I would classify as one of the "unthinkable" mamas you describe (quite absorbed in my mothering), but I guess it has to do more with my personality, and how one's life was before one became a mother and their particular situation. E.g. I didn't really enjoy my job much, and I can't even work right now (as a foreign student). So, for me, just being a mom satisfies me. OK, but here I am blogging, taking that time away from them, so I guess maybe I wouldn't count.

    Well, I guess these comments have more to do with how I read what you wrote than with what you actually wrote, so that's it for now...