(Graphic by Brooke Taylor)
“My life is mine” aren’t only the words that Tracee Ellis Ross lives by, but also the words I will continue to live by after reading her speech on expectations of womanhood. At 45 years old, Ross is a successful actress, business mogul and now I guess she can add life coach to her resume. But even with all of her successes, people still concentrate on the fact that she’s a single 45-year-old woman with no child.
From the beginning of time – or as long as we could remember as children – we were brainwashed into believing that our lives had certain expectations that we must achieve. We would read fairy tales about beautiful women meeting their prince charmings at tender ages and living happily ever after. Or to be more realistic, we would grow up and marry someone successful, live in a large house with a white picket fence and have two or three children within a certain window of time. And if you were able to meet life’s requirements, you were deemed an excellent member of society.
Why can’t we have the independence to frame our chapters the way we want? Society expects us to finish college at a particular age, meet our significant other, get engaged and then married before the age of 30 – and we definitely can’t forget about the kids. They’re supposed to arrive no less than two years after the marriage. But if we don’t glorify these expectations, society thinks there’s something wrong with us.
I’m 24 years old. I’m in no rush to walk down that aisle to the altar, and I’m definitely not ready to chase after a mini-me. But when people ask me how many kids I want and I respond with, “probably one,” I find it amusing when they get that confused look on their faces and say, “One? That’s it?” Well sorry to break it to you, but I’m an only child and my parents were happy with their decision to not have any more children. I turned out perfectly fine. Actually, scratch that, I turned out great.
Believe it or not, but having a child or getting married after the age of 30 is totally acceptable. Look at Serena Williams. She is a Grand Slam tennis champion who recently birthed a beautiful baby girl and said her “I do’s” last week at 36 years old. But if getting married or having a child isn’t in your plan, then that is OK too! Some people are married to their careers, and upcoming projects are their babies. Others may want to live out their 20s first by traveling to exotic countries, going on countless dates and staying out till 3 a.m. with friends.
Sometimes we need to pause, take a step back and figure out what we want. At the end of the day, what will make you happy? Was it all worth it, or do you have any regrets? If you don’t meet these societal life-expectations, don’t ever feel like you failed, because you’re living for yourself. Continue living your life – your best life – the way you choose to, not based on the expectations of the world around you.