After graduating college, I couldn’t wait to settle down a bit. I lost the desire to go out and drink whiskey sours, smoke cigarettes, and stay up all night making bad decisions after stopping at a greasy spoon to eat eggs at 2:00 in the morning. Sure, it was fun every once in a while, but I had gotten it all out of my system in college. After age 21, I felt a strong urge to start giving a fuck and pull myself together — on most days anyway.
I wanted to start exercising and taking vitamins. I quit smoking and got a place of my own and decorated it with floral pillows and shit. I spent my money on flatware and candles instead of booze and other unmentionables.
I could feel myself evolving. The things that had excited me in my college days, like kissing cute boys at wild parties, lost their luster. I enjoyed drinking wine on a quiet Tuesday night with one or two friends and going to bed at a decent hour so I could make it through my workday without acting like an asshole.
I still enjoyed men, but I preferred to dine or go to a movie instead of making out behind some seedy bar.
My career became important to me. I bought my own car, had my own apartment, and wore high heels with matching purses. I wanted to be the boss. I worked hard to make that happen, and I liked the responsibility that came with it. I didn’t have time in my life for partying every weekend, kissing strangers, or getting kicked out of the local diner.
I was turning into somewhat of a grown-up.
I felt healthy and happy. Sometimes I missed the freedom of my old life, but not enough to revert back to it full- time. I was reinventing myself and moving forward into the next stage of my life.
A few years after meeting Frank, the man I ended up marrying, I changed again. My career — which had taken center stage — was replaced with thoughts of a family and a house with a big yard.
Another change, another stage, I was reinventing myself all over again.
After becoming a mother, I thought that’s what would define me for the rest of my days. I put everything I had into being the best mom I could be. I figured this would be the be-all-end-all for me. No need for reinventing myself again because this is where I wanted to be forever.
But something happened a few years ago and I realized I had a whole other chapter of my life ahead of me. There was other shit I really wanted to do. Being a mother is my favorite and most important job and it always will be, but I had completely lost my identity. I was always aware of this loss, and for a time, I just didn’t give a shit — it was all I needed, until it wasn’t.
Our kids grow up, they evolve, and so do we. Just because we become a parent doesn’t mean we stop changing and wanting different things from our lives. When I started to experience feelings of wanting more out of life, I felt incredibly guilty, but I refused to let that bullshit hold me back. I had nothing to feel guilty about, after all.
The other day while picking up my kids from school, a friend of mine said to me, “You know, I am not the same woman I was 10 years ago,” and it was so comforting and validating to hear those words.
We aren’t just women and mothers — we are people. We will change, we will grow, and we will evolve. We have moments that make us realize that we are not willing to put up with certain things any longer, we want a change, or we simply need to let go of something which no longer serves us.
We will speak up, we will move toward making the necessary changes, and we will let go. It will stir things up. It will raise questions. It will startle those around us because we have been a certain way for a long time and it takes time to get used to change.
But we are allowed to change. Just because you’ve kept your mouth closed, or put up with certain behaviors, or liked to eat steak every Wednesday night doesn’t mean you have to stay the same until your last days for fear you might piss someone off. Fuck that.
The people who truly matter in your life will be there and love every version of you. So, do your thing. The right people will stick around, and the half-assed ones will fade away (and that’s part of life and evolving too).
It doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself and who you used to be. It just means that your lived experiences have helped shape you into a better, fresher, more complete version of your true self. It might be a really hard transition — I know some of my transitions have felt very confusing and tumultuous, but I think it is important to realize you are going through this angst for a reason, and when you come out the other side, damn, you feel amazing.
So keep pushing for what you want out of life. Allow yourself to evolve. Answer that call for change. Do what you need to do to live your best life.