“As I get older, I find myself becoming ruder”, muses my friend from Wales in her latest e-mail. What she means is that she has fewer internal brakes to stop her voicing what she really thinks.

At a gathering of women, huddled over baked pasta, the hostess recounts a story and ends by proclaiming that maturity has finally bestowed fearlessness on her.

I couldn’t agree more.

At 20, we are completely unaware of our beauty and live with bravado behind a shield of insecurity.

At 30, we are a bit more cocky and self-assured but still grappling with career and relationship issues (or, god help us, motherhood).

At 40, we have set in some of our ways, we are more comfortable in our skins and less fearful of speaking out, standing up for ourselves and others, but we begin to worry our best days might be behind us.

While approaching 50, trying to reconcile the lines on our faces that don’t match our energy and our enthusiasm for life, I have indeed noticed an absence of fear. Don’t get me wrong, I am petrified at the thought of getting seriously sick and the idea of eventually dying is none too pleasant nor readily accepted, but I have become fearless in a million ways I am actually conscious of.

Unlike the fearlessness of youth, dictated by inexperience, foolishness and the absence of known consequences (or imaginable ones), my current bout of courage stems from knowing what the consequences are and not caring. White lies are sometimes necessary but going with the truth 99% of the time is liberating. Having managed to accept myself for who I am, I tend to be more accepting of others who, in return, must vow not to try and change me or wish I were different.

Trying new experiences is not a dilemma any longer as the “life is too short” motto pretty much sums it up and eliminates indecision.

In a perverse way, I am looking forward to getting to the point where the mirror doesn’t matter any longer and a hat is all you need for a bad hair day. Possibly pink and straw.

1 Comment

Filed under aging, women's issues


  1. It is also more than women’s issues. Stating, not quibbling. I agree with all that you say. It is difficult in the world of lies we inhabit. I recently read the results of a survey that 4 out of 5 people lie about having seen a film: + top of the list of films lied about were Citizen Kane, The Godfather, + I think Chinatown. It is also easy, once you have embarked on that path. To speak the truth, to be yourself will make you unpopular in some circles, fewer invitations to dinner parties. Not complaining. You are left with people of like mind, who appreciate the honesty, even should it make things a little uncomfortable at times. Speaking the truth also means – + this is maybe the most difficult – not remaining silent in the company of malicious gossips, bigots; when abuse is taking place. Adrienne Rich wrote very beautifully about this in an essay c 1978, in which she talked about the ‘conspiracy of silence’ that must be shattered [talking about women for the women’s movement]. I take it further than that.

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