I just turned 31 and I decided to organize a "let's ride and eat cake" weekend social ride. True to the unpredictable conditions that dominate November, I woke up to a thick layer of fog glued to the window and crispy, uninviting air. Once again doubting that anyone would show up, I was pleasantly surprised to see a group of smiling girls at our meeting spot, some of them already shivering but all of them determined to ride together and find some sun.
We headed to one of my favourite local climbs and began up through the impossibly thick fog. Already then, only seeing a few meters ahead, I felt so lucky to be riding in a place I love, with people who share the same passion for cycling (and cake). Eventually, the sun started to peep through the milk and together, one pedal stroke at a team we rode into blue skies and euphoria, everyone hooting and hollering (either we all said wow one hundred times each or the blanket of clouds below us echoed our amazement).
At the top of the climb, sitting and warming up in the sun, sharing some chocolate with badass women I couldn't help but reflect: WHY DOES THE WORLD TEACH US TO FEAR AGING?
Ever since we were little girls, we were bombarded with advertisements promising to reduce lines and perhaps some of us even witnessed our mothers attempts to slow the process. Exposure to these narratives and notions that "young women have more value" left an indisputable mark, that made turning 30 feel scary, and closer to 40 meant "holy shit I'm getting old". Why do we think of it this way? Why not - holy shit I'm starting to really develop into who I am? Why not - look at the people I've met over the years? The roads I've explored? The tools I've gathered to handle the shit that comes at me?
Why does getting older feel like a descent rather than a climb?
If I was still in my 20s, I'd still be dressing and looking in the mirror wondering if a man would approve. I'd still be looking for "the one" who was "good enough" to father a child not even knowing why I would ever possibly want a child.
Instead, I'm 31 investing in bikes instead of babies, dreaming of adventures with other women instead of my wedding day and I'm TRYING to look at the wrinkles developing around my eyes and think, damn I've been smiling A LOT instead of panic and fall into a crisis which quite frankly I can't do anything about.
Now this isn't to say women shouldn't dream of weddings and babies and wear sunscreen but that we shouldn't RELY on those things (or any things for that matter) to make us feel fulfilled. And I would challenge you, before you judge yourself or spiral into feeling stressed about anything, ask yourself - WHY DO I THINK ABOUT SOMETHING IN THIS WAY? Whether that be parenthood, marriage, aging, your body... whatever it is, ask yourself why, what are some of the things that have lead you to that place in your experience and are those reasons truly authentic to who you are and who you want to be?
I'm not saying I've got it down pact, I'll be the first to tell you I have a lot of existential anxiety about a variety of topics and I'm also a very privileged person lucky enough to have resources and a community around me to help me cope with things that come my way. I guess I'm just saying I wish we would practice questioning what the world has told us was important without our consent.
If you ever want to chat about this, or write a blog of your own, please get it touch.