The New Milestones

by kim on July 8, 2013 · 11 comments

in adulthood

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I came across this article this morning about how women are making new milestones in their lives now that they have more choices.  I’d argue that they’re often chastised for those choices, but I digress…a bit.  The important part of this is that we are starting to see a change in the way we perceive life.  Or at least some of us.  The end goal isn’t marriage and procreation for all of us anymore, and that’s a wonderful thing.  We are so much more than our reproductive organs.

We are women…hear us roar.

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The article listed the following as new milestones and I thought I’d share with you my experiences and thoughts on them as a milestone in general.  I hope you’ll play along.

 

  • Losing Your Virginity

Milestone? Yes, but don’t let it define you.  I made this out to be more important than it was.  In fact, looking back, I wish I had just done it sooner and been done with it.  I made too much out of it and it made too much out of me.  My fear of it (mostly because of the fear of my own body) needed to be removed so I could move on and enjoy my life and myself.  I did it and we all moved on.

 

  • Getting Your Period

Milestone? Yes. But only because it’s still such a secret to many girls.  Otherwise it’d just be a biological stepping stone.  I remember reading Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Despite the way in which the technical details of the story aged poorly (belts for sanitary pads, anyone?), I think every girl should read this.  Judy Blume is magical.  Unlike Margaret, I actually got my period before most of my friends–even some that were older than me.  I was kind of an early bloomer in that respect and so the thing I remember most about it was being alone.

 

  • Learning How to Masturbate

Milestone? Maybe. I guess for those women who haven’t done it, it is one.  But to me it’s something that evolves over time and changes as your body changes.  So I don’t really know how this is one set milestone.  But I hear about women who have never touched themselves and…to be quite frank…I don’t get it.  How have you never done that?  Haven’t you ever driven down a bumpy road or sat on a washing machine and thought “Gee whiz…I could get off like this at home with a bit more effort!” ???

 

  • Standing Up For Yourself/Someone Else

Milestone? Yes. For sure.  I think this one should be a pure standing up for yourself.  Women are much more likely to stand up for others and let themselves take the blame and the shame.  To me, that’s not a milestone.  But standing up for yourself?  Damn straight that’s a brilliant thing.  Learning how to say a simple “no” is something we should teach girls (and boys) much earlier.

 

  • Falling in Love

Milestone? Sure.  But was this not one ten or twenty years ago?  I fall in love in weird ways.  And my problem hasn’t been falling in love, it’s been falling in love with the right people.

 

  • Dumping Your First Shitty Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Milestone? Yes.  Also could be letting go of an unhealthy love.

 

  • Finding Your People

Milestone? Yes.  But not just finding your own people, but learning how to do it.  It has to be able to be replicated.  I have my own people in each era of my life.  Some stick with me, some fade out.  But high school, college, law school, beyond…it’s all been about finding my people.

 

  • Picking a Major/Focus

Milestone? No. You have to do it.  You have to pick a major to get a degree.  And these days, picking a major doesn’t mean picking a profession or way of life.  So I don’t think it carries the same weight. And a bachelor’s degree doesn’t carry the same weight either.

 

  • Taking Your First Road Trip

Milestone?  No.  Wicked fun? Yes. Great memories are necessary to a full life, but this is no more of a milestone than other great times.

 

  • Finding Your Look

Milestone? No. If your look is static, then yeah…I guess.  But mine isn’t.  And it’s mostly what is comfortable and clean that day.  What if you just don’t care enough about a look to let this be a milestone?  Because that’s where I’m at with it.

 

  • Trying to Have an Adult Relationship

Milestone? Maybe. The “trying” thing bothers me.  I tried to have an adult relationship with my eight imaginary husbands (all named Bobby or J.R.) when I was five.  So how special was that?  Having an adult relationship?  Yeah….that one is different.  That one takes work and sacrifice and admitting you can be wrong and learning and growing and fighting and building.  Sure.  That one is a milestone.

 

  • Facing Your Finances

Milestone?  Not sure.  This might be the lawyer in me, but…define this, please.  Because I get what they’re saying but it’s a constant freaking battle.  It’s not like I hit a certain age and took control of my finances Suze Orman style.  I just can’t.  I never will be able to mentally or financially. Sorry.  But I’m not sorry.  I can’t let money have this much influence over who I am as a person.  Learning that money doesn’t just magically appear?  Yeah.  But for those of us who grew up without that sense of entitlement or a limited version of it, that lesson isn’t exactly one we need to learn in the same way.

 

  • Loving Your Body/Actually Liking Yourself

Milestone? Yes. But not in the way it’s phrased.  I remember the first time I heard of size acceptance and fat acceptance. And since then it’s been a journey.  So that moment was a milestone, but the rest is hard work.  I’ve gone through phases where I’ve loved my body, where I’ve hated it and where I’ve ignored it.  That’s natural.  But learning that you can love your body despite what everyone else says about you and those like you?  Hell yeah that’s a milestone.

 

heart rupaul

 

Other milestones that I’d add:

  • Deciding whether you want to try to have kids or live child free. Our reproductive systems do not govern our lives, but it’s a decision we have to make and remake and live with one way or another.  So it’s still relevant. But it’s relevant in the way in which it’s relevant to men and women alike.  
  • Finding a job you really love.  I’ve had bits and pieces of this, but nothing that I enjoy 80% of the time and pays the bills.
  • Learning your parents are human.  They aren’t infallible.  They aren’t evil either. (in most cases)  They’re just people that made choices like you make choices and those choices may or may not be wrong.
  • Taking one real vacation and doing real travel at least once each.  Vacation=relaxation.  Travel=explore. To be honest, I love to travel but sometimes it leaves me more exhausted than when I started. That’s how you know you’re doing it right…you need a few days to recuperate.  Every now and again we need a vacation where we relax and are catered to regularly.  If you can afford it, I highly recommend.  But don’t confuse the two because they are not the same.

What did I miss?  Do you agree with the list above?  What would you add/take away?

 

 

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Akirah July 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm

I added to the thread that one for me was learning how to use tampons. This was meaningful to me because I was 28 and married when I finally figured out how to do it. I felt like I solved a 28 year old mystery or something. Major milestone. Each time I do it, I’m a happy-as-hell.

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kim July 10, 2013 at 8:06 pm

HA! I love this. Good for you. i’ve never been able to use them myself. My anatomy just rejects them. So I totally get this.

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Megg July 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I feel like “Facing your Finances” is going to be a tough one for the newer generations of women, particularly with student loan rates going through the roof. That major you had to pick isn’t going to pay for itself… and don’t even get me started on today’s helicopter parents.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that Losing your Virginity and Being in an Adult Relationship really should go hand-in-hand. Falling in Love should be wrapped up in this as well. And, I say this as someone who lost my virginity to the man who is now my hubby, so take me with a grain of salt, if you wish. (I feel compelled to note that this wasn’t a “wait for marriage” thing, but more of a “you’re not spongeworthy” thing)

Finding your Look is ridiculous – my college “look” of fleece pants and sweatshirts every day would not be serving me well at this point. I agree with you on that being a silly milestone idea.

I think “Seeing your Parents as People” is how I’d put it — not just that they’re fallable, but that they’re real people who enjoy real things, just like you! This, I think, is a critical step in becoming an adult that a lot of people seem to miss out on.

The only thing I’d add, and you could argue that it’s already there in the very vague finances one, is Pay off a Major Purchase – car, house, college debt, whatever. There’s just something about sending that final payment in that feels great, and it’s so huge in terms of setting yourself up for longterm financial success.

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kim July 10, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I’ll buy into the pay off a major purchase. or a major mistake. like my first credit card. The Mister and I were married by time he paid off his car, but I never felt like that was my car.

Not spongeworthy. HAAAAA!!!!

Facing your finances is going to be impossible for a great number of women…and men. The system is rigged so that we fail. Those that don’t are getting rare now and will be in the minority very soon

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Lisa July 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Here’s how I’ve looked at the milestones listed in my experience.

Losing my virginity – Yes and no. I was 21. I didn’t look at it as a big deal, and in fact the next day tried to hide it. When one of my friends said I had a “glow” and figured out I had had sex I was pissed. Mainly because I didn’t get what the big deal was.

Getting my period – Definite milestone. I developed hypothyroidism as a child and I didn’t know how that affected me. I also found out from my mother that she got hers early. When I didn’t have mine by the time I was 17, I made her take me to a doctor. I started the next month.

Learning how to masturbate – Yes! To me, this was more of a milestone than losing my virginity. The guy I lost my virginity to pretty much taught me how to masturbate. I know this sounds so damn cliche, but I swear I heard Handel’s Messiah chorus the first time I had a clitoral orgasm.

Standing up for self/others – I’d say yes. The first time I really stood up for myself was in 8th grade. Some douche was picking on me for my size and I told him that if he was going to make fun of me to at least be creative about it. He never said a word to me again. I have to agree with Kim that standing up for others is easier.

Falling in love – Yeah. As much as I don’t want to admit that since the first time I really fell in love was with someone I now loathe with the fury of a thousand suns. But the first time I really gave my heart and being to someone after being fucked over earlier in life was a pretty huge deal.

Dumping first shitty boyfriend/girlfriend – Not really. I just never called him anymore. But getting dumped by the ex changed my life forever.

Picking a major/focus – I thought I wanted to be a musician/actor when I was 18. By the time I was 21, I had figured out the hard way that that was not to be my path. I feel lucky in that I had found something else that I was passionate about.

Taking your first road trip – No. I don’t quite understand why that’s there. Other than to find out “hey, I can be in a car with someone else for 7 hours and not want to kill them.”

Finding your look – No. I’d like to think I’ve found it. And while it may not be the best for me, I don’t see anyone offering to buy me a new wardrobe.

Trying to have an adult relationship – Yeah. I’m in my second one (and have been for 5 + years) and it’s different from the first one. It does mean sacrifice, being wrong, admitting you’re wrong, and compromise.

Loving your body/actually liking yourself – Most definitely a milestone. For some reason, when I went into High School I decided that I was going to change. Middle School was somewhat hellish for me and I didn’t want that to continue. Also going from junior year to senior year, I decided that I was going to kick ass, take some names, and just in general have a fucking blast. That was the liking myself. In college, I had some struggles with liking myself, but thanks to a good friend *literally* dragging me screaming to the health center, I sought therapy and proceeded to kick ass and take names once again. Loving my body…I’ve been an overweight tween, teenager, and woman. My attitude has been for some time that if someone doesn’t dig me for my size, they can suck it cause I’m awesome. Do I have times where I don’t think that? Yeah, but that usually lasts about a day.

Learning your parents are human – Oh my god yes. When my mother had her heart attack, it was really jarring to me. There’s a huge chunk of time that I have no recollection of. I know I kept working, and I know at some point I had lunch. But from when I hung up the phone after she told me she was going to the hospital until I got there, I couldn’t tell you what happened or what I said. I honestly have no memory.

Milestone I would like to add:
Losing your parent(s) – Losing my mother was the most devastating thing that has happened. The 4 year anniversary is this week and I’m not terribly emotional about it. Yet. I know it’s coming. I became so bitter toward everyone (not a good thing when you work with the public) and didn’t even realize it. It took a screaming match with The Man for me to figure it out. And that was over a year later.

If you’re still reading, congrats. I feel like I should offer a prize.

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Megg July 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

I didn’t even think about Losing your Parents as a milestone – that’s a great one. But also a horrifically sad one, and, while I know it’s mostly meaningless hearing this from someone (having lost my mom at the ripe old age of 10), I’m sorry that you lost your mom already. This is a milestone, but one that no one under the age of 50 or so should have to deal with, in a perfect world.

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kim July 10, 2013 at 8:19 pm

I’ll take an ice cream cone as my prize!

Losing a parent is definitely a milestone. I haven’t had to face that yet, thankfully. But many close friends have and The Mister has and it changes you in ways that are unimaginable. It makes you face your own mortality and your role in life. I totally get it on an intellectual level, though I don’t yet on a heart and soul level.

The finding your look thing seems really superficial to me. Especially since looks can change so much. And because it involves spending money.

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Lisa July 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I agree that it is terribly sad. But I also view it as a milestone because we learn that our parents can die. They’re not going to be there forever.

I’m sorry you lost your mother at such a young age. I can’t imagine going through the teenage years without one.

*hugs*

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kim July 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I’m sorry you both lost your moms and that from everything I know about both of you, they were awesome women. And I think this milestone is a totally appropriate one and one only someone who has gone through it would think of, really.

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