We Already Know That

I turn 50 this year, and weirdly, I am here for it.

Surprising, since I acutely remember saying out loud in my early 20s: “I think 50 is the cutoff between young and old. That is the year you tip.” (Youth, fraught with hubris, is utterly wasted on the young.)

Culture keeps a lot of secrets from us. One of the most glaring is that getting older is, largely, amazing. There is a premium placed on youth; after all, it is a billion upon billion dollar industry that has successfully convinced us that aging is a problem to be solved. Endless industries abandon their senior employees to advance their bottom line with less expensive, less experienced replacements. The beauty industry is downright shameless. Hollywood offers one lead role to over-60 actors for every hundred granted to the next generation. Plenty of cultural messages suggest: Green is gold. 

But with the expansive demographic of Baby Boomers and Gen X on deck, the gig is running out of steam.

There are too many of us who now know experientially that getting older is the shit, particularly as women. We are smarter, wiser, funnier, better; more successful, more interesting, more curious, more sexual. We are less interested in catering to gendered norms. We’ve developed media literacy that reduces the commercials and filters and Photoshops down to buffoonery; we’re onto it. 

Thirty years ago, we were handed a list of qualities to aspire toward. They seemed right. And since we were young and earnest and determined to win adulthood, we tried with all our might. We followed the scripts. We said yes when we meant no, and no when we meant yes. We deferred to the men. We starved ourselves and waged war against our own good bodies. We were polite. We abandoned our own instincts. Outrageously, we literally tried to do it all: marriage, parenting, career, volunteerism, hot bodies, all the housework, all the mental labor, all the emotional lifting, all the management. 

Then we learned those don’t necessarily add up as promised. Ships still sank. People didn’t love us more for our hard work; in fact, sometimes that labor created resentment and codependency. Nor were we able to control outcomes as expected. Life was still very life-y for us, our marriages, our kids, our relationships, and rather than make us impervious, it just made us tired. It was a ruse. We couldn’t earn worth with impeccable performance. Turns out, it was ours to begin with. We had it all along. 

We’re getting that now, and it is making us such better versions of ourselves, the best iterations we’ve ever been. Which leads me to my point (only now? After 500 words?? Writers are insufferable): 

Guess who is learning this much earlier? The next generation of women.
God, what a thrill to watch! They are asking questions of the system at 22 I didn’t ask until 45. Patriarchy? Be a good girl and sit quietly? They.are.not.having.it. Tons of them are forgoing marriage (and sometimes parenthood), and others are changing their wedding ceremonies; no one will “give this woman to this man” because she is not property, for God’s sake. They have abandoned rules that were performative in the first place. They absolutely disparage their moms’ diet culture. They take social media off their phones because they’ve already linked it to mental health. They wear sneakers to their dressy events and blink plainly at the raised eyebrow: “Why on earth would I wear uncomfortable shoes?” 

They ask for raises and call out sexism, homophobia, ableism, and racism no matter the environment. They hire each other in their self-made businesses. They aren’t interested in outdated protocol, and sexual shame has met its match in these girls. Not to mention their total rejection of hypocritical organized religion – it will demonstrate spiritual integrity or they will not have it. They won’t tolerate it hoping for better days. They’ll just leave it behind. They are onto all of it. 

As a leader of women around my age, I turned a well-worn message from my community to my daughters and their friends thinking I was mentoring them early:

“You are worthy exactly as you are.”

Their response?

“We already know that.” 

It occurs to me that they are standing on the shoulders of the women who went before them, plowing up inhospitable fields of equality. Our predecessors made it possible for us to say to ourselves and each other: “We are worthy as we are, not just for what we do.” And so we started saying it. And bit by bit, we started believing it. And slowly but surely, we started living it. Our generation then plowed up more of the field. We’ve made the clearing wider these last 20 years. 

This next generation is now strolling where we toiled, where the women before us toiled even earlier. It worked. It mattered. It changed things. They heard it. They believed it early. Look at them! They know about consent, and they discuss the gender wage gap in interviews. They are changing the disproportionate ratios of men to women in law school, med school, boardrooms, state capitols. They are making their beautiful art now instead of waiting to “reclaim it” in their empty nest years. They travel alone and their best friends are their families. They vote and march and see past political shams. They know what they want and structure their lives to have it; how novel. 

It is a wonder to watch. 

They are experiencing the gorgeous qualities of getting older…younger.
Now, lest they get too fancy about it, we still have the irreplaceable wisdom of lived years, age mates. We’ve got some stuff. We earned all this the hard way, and as Jonathan Swift once wrote: “No wise man ever wished to be younger.” Our earth years did not have a short cut, and we are the better for every single one of them. Life experience cannot be replicated.

But what a thrill to see some of the seeds we planted take off. My prediction is that this next crop will outpace us in real time, and I say: let it be. Grow, grow, grow, young ones. Reach and expand and bloom and propagate. Plow up the next field; this is your work. Women are certainly not where we deserve to be, and our elected leaders are dragging us backward as we speak. You have a big task ahead, and it is not for the faint of heart. 

Fortunately, you are not faint of heart. You are exactly who you are, as you were meant to be, and as you want to be. A generation of women not obsessed with performing and pretending, uninterested in the self-serving whims of the patriarchy, is exactly who we need. You are the ones just as you are. 

You are worthy.
But you already knew that. 


The response to this blog has been overwhelming in the best way. I realized we are on a journey. A powerful journey of rediscovering and reclaiming our worth.

I wanted to create something for us to check in on ourselves. An honest self-assessment. And offer some next steps in healing, growing, and community.

Answer these 12 questions with all the vulnerability and honesty you can muster.  And at the end, you’ll receive a custom set of content (and a free phone wallpaper) to encourage you on your journey.