(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

forever a girl.

random stream of semi-consciousness on the aging process. While our bodies change in ways we don't always care to reflect upon, much of who we are on the inside remains the same. Funny how all of this life experience doesn't eliminate many of our earliest acquired thoughts and self-images.  For me, it isn't "first I was a girl.  Then I became a young woman.  I then left that for womanhood." I feel like I am all of the stages I have ever been, wrapped up into one slightly addled being, existing in whatever spirit moves me.

I still retain the silly humor and tomboyish competitiveness I had as a schoolgirl. I like to think I would try anything once, get a rush from the highest rollercoaster or daredevil challenge. And yet, the babyish reaction to spiders, snakes, bees... fear and anxiety remains. So much for a big brave tomboy!

I still feel that young woman's self-conscious awareness when around a fellow I am attracted to. I carry with me the teenage triumphs and girlish wounds from those years of striving to understand what kind of woman I would be. I remember many achievements and nurse many hurts from all those years past. I react in kind with the thoughts of all those girls swirling through my mind ... I can bat my eyelashes or provide a reasoned soliloquy, dependent on my mood and frame of mind.

I am the whorish 20something woman who, in a period of depression and denial, sought love or the semblance of it with my burgeoning sexual appetite, youthful beauty and harsh disdain.  Discarding the best of the lot, the cynicism I carefully nurtured is with me to this day and curtails many of my reactions, coloring my hopes and dreams with its dismal hues dulled to grey.

The accomplished 30s feed my ambition and drive, casting new light on my ability to outperform and outshine my competitors, should I desire to shift into overdrive.  That whole realization that I actually COULD bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan ... and YES never let him forget... although that was at my discretion.  This late discovered confidence served to help me find an internal box in which to store many of my failures, missteps and poor decisions.  As well as the hurts and ingnominies of the 20s, mostly deserved and yet barely earned.

Now ... in my 40s, finally seeing much of it all knit itself together into a new fabric ... stronger due to the variety of threads, more resilient because of the wear and tear of it all.  Ready to be recut and fashioned into something stylish and fitting for the me that is now.

Yet, I believe it goes beyond the remembrance of those days. I am still that girl, in my mind pumping my fist in the air when attracting the attention I desire, conquering a new fact, receiving a compliment from my professor or friend, or just having one of those 'best hair/jeans/makeup' days ... swaying my hips confidently as I stroll the avenue. And then, a reflection is caught in the window and I see less and less of that cocky yet insecure girl in the image.  Or those other women of various decades.

It is that startling moment which drops us squarely back to earth. When we realize the gap between our self-image and actual image is growing wider and wider.

The moment when (probably more so for women than men) increased consideration of various products to inject a bit more youth and vitality into our visage occurs. When maybe that harsh offense against various 'procedures' or a little bit of 'work' begins to drop ... maybe a little something around the neck wouldn't be so bad? (pick the problem area of your choosing) ... as long as we don't get the wind tunnel effect, pour-quoi pas?

Hearts still skip a beat when phone rings, or fretting begins when it doesn't. Invitations are still compared and registered for continued popularity and acceptance. Caution is still tossed to the wind and then reviewed from a 3rd party's point of view (did we go too far that time?) Judgements rendered and reversed. Risks are taken and then results fretted over.  Regrets are considered and then heartily discarded.  

It's exhausting being human sometimes! especially of the feminine variety!

(image from squidoo.com)


Randal Graves said...

Between you and LBR the other day, you guys gotta stop with these deep posts.

As is obvious to anyone, you chicks have far more bullshit to overcome as you age than us dudes simply through stupid social norms. My hair is wistfully going away, but I could always pretend to be Patrick Stewart. Crows feet making an appearance? So what. 20-year olds are boring as fuck anyway.

Getting older is always better for the intellectual and emotional sides because one is better equipped to deal with complexities. Usually.

I never tried sashaying. Muah.

I don't think I've really explored the 'world' or whatever label there is. We had our first kid when we were 19 and 18 respectively. Been mom and dad since then. Everything feels static.

All the above was written from my guy point of view, thus heaping bowls of salt if not applicable to all. Better that you wait for your feminine compatriots to add their more valuable cents. They're in Euros!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

RG-I was hoping you'd chime in ... and not wimp out like a boy. snicker. I had almost included a direct solicitation to my male readers (yes there are a couple) on this topic. What a luxury to not give a shit. guess the guys are head cases about other stuff? or just not that complicated.

Randal Graves said...

I can't speak for my fellow wimps ;-) but although perhaps not as damning as the 'traditions' the ladies are expected to follow, we have our own, namely, never looking at ourselves, our interior life, never succumbing to emotion, the typical macho bullshit.

Fuck, what IS life but emotion? If I couldn't feel those, good, bad, whatever, coursing through my veins, well, gimme the concrete shoes. Not that I wouldn't enjoy a day without them once in awhile. It'd be quiet inside my head for at least a few hours.

Now if you'll excuse me it's time to drink beer and watch football.

Well, wine anyway. I don't like beer.

Ooga ooga!

Utah Savage said...

This is such a beautifully written post.

Here is the truth on female beauty. You will be beautiful into your fifties. There is nothing you can do about being beautiful, smart, sexy, funny, wise, warm, loving, a bit wounded... This is just who you have become. A warm, wry, sensual, gorgeous woman. Live with it.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

Ahh-U.S., a feminine viewpoint from someone I admire - merci! I'm surprised more of my female readers have not chimed in! hmmm, have I struck a nerve which wanted to go unnoticed?

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

RG-I think it would be even lonelier being a male. I wouldn't trade being a woman, part and parcel avec baggage, for all the tea in China ... or being a male. It is good to hear that some of your kind have feelings, emote...even if just on the inside1

bonnie-ann black said...

i have reached the point of not recognizing the woman in that window reflection or doorway... the same basic shape is there, but when did it start blurring so much? when did the contents shift during flight? inside, i am still yearning and romantic, and sharp and sarcastic and full of fire -- but fewer and fewer come to warm themselves by my hearth or in my bed. now when i find men attractive, unlike even 10 years ago, i am shy and self-conscious, aware of my physical imperfections like never before. i find myself withdrawing into myself more, instead of living in the outside world... i tell myself to just get out there, but i feel like i'm dwindling and becoming invisible. my style of dress now feels rather eccentric, my silver hair no longer unique but aging.

i'm trying really hard to still be myself but the mirror robs me of my will to throw myself out there. funny because i was never very vain, never very self-conscious and i guess, convinced that by sheer force of will, i'd never age.

wish i could say it comforts me that others are finding themselves with the same thoughts -- but, selfish as it sounds, it doesn't.

WendyB said...

I'm trying to maintain total denial about aging. Because, after all, I still FEEL the same!

Randal Graves said...

Hey, scowling and brooding are emoting on the outside.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

bonnie~I hear ya! but I'm not going down without a fight...I think that our worst enemy is not time but the voices in our head. The ones that convince us of all of these things including we are old, unworthy of attention, etc. I plan to keep on fucking till I die, and I encourage the opposite voices in my head that tell me to go for it, baby!

wendy~ I guess that was part of my point. Not only do we still FEEL the same, we still ARE the same. And different. But still in there, nonetheless.

Passes RG the remote ....

Kathleen said...

I have to say, this is one of the finest pieces you've ever written... it's brutal honesty in juxtiposition with it's sweet vulnerability falls on all sides just right.

Looking forward to seeing you next week...K.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

Ahhhh, Mme. K, one of my favorite inspirations on womanhood...can´t wait to see you either!

amy said...

Just had to say this post is wonderful. You captured something here, and I don't know when or where I've heard (seen?) it said so well. thank you, thank you!

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

amy~ merci bien.