While checking into a hotel on recent family vacation with my daughter on my hip, the clerk proceeded to say, "She's adorable. Whose is she?" Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it wouldn't be the first incident where I felt like someone went looking for my mother when it was time to handle business, and I'm guessing it's because I don't always look the part.
I'm proud to say that my family got a healthy helping of "black don't crack" in the bloodline, but lately I've been thinking about if entering your thirties requires a drastic change in behavior AND dress. I mean, I was rocking a muscle tee covered with a huge pic of Drake and my hair was big, curly and bright red. I’m not exactly a “Claire Huxtable” kind of mom or professional. Most days I want to dress like Zendaya from Disney’s K.C. Undercover. But I go to work every day, handle my responsibilities and make a solid effort at being an adult. I don’t engage in Facebook beef and I know the difference between a work dress and a club dress. Still, the clerk’s response got me wondering: What’s a girl gotta do to be considered a grown “grown woman”?
Now I know some of you are already thinking, “Who the hell cares? Wear what you want to wear.” But you to have to admit;
[Tweet "How you present yourself plays a big part in how others respond to you"]
And sometimes the opportunities that are presented to you. Regardless of what age you are or how much life experience you have, first appearances tell a story about you before people learn anything about you. I’ll confess: it’s hard for me to take Jay-Z seriously sometimes when’s he’s rocking a pair of butt-naked Timbs’ to a business meeting. But you can’t deny he’s about his business. More importantly, being grown doesn’t mean giving up your personality, but it does mean knowing how to present yourself and when it’s appropriate to act a certain way. Priorities help too. People don’t care what you’re wearing if you’re spending your whole tax return on True Religion but steady ducking the repo man.
I used to think I'd reach this magical age where suddenly I had all my ish together. I'd be this confident adult who had all the answers and the fact that I had a car note, health insurance and a somewhat decent credit score would be proof that I was a bona fide grown woman. But just recently I realized a lot of us have no clue what the hell we're doing and we're all at various stages of our life where any random moment of awkwardness makes us question our whole inventory of life experience. It wasn’t that long ago I had days when I'd jump out of bed and hear a voice in my head whisper, "I love my life." I was climbing the career ladder with one hand and being steadily promoted since I entered the professional world. I had found an awesome balance of self-confidence, love and independence complete with girls’ trips, a promising writing career and a solid relationship with my then long-term boyfriend. As soon as I got too comfortable and felt like I was nailing this grown woman ish, I was a wife and a mother Googling “Why does my baby cry every time she poops?” wondering if my mother-in-law really likes me and feeling like a professional failure. There are days when honestly it feels like adolescence all over again.
That's when what it means to be a grown woman really hit me. It’s having enough sense to know you're never really going to know what the hell you're doing, you don't have all the answers and that's OK. I've been putting a lot of thought into the idea of aging gracefully lately. I'm surrounded by older women on a daily basis in the forms of family and colleagues and the women I find I respect the most are the ones who are humble. They listen, they ask questions, they find new reasons to be inspired every day and find ways to learn from everyone and everything. They have a quiet confidence where they own who they are, what they know, and what they still have to figure out. They rock everything from purple dreads to bob cuts, but what matters most is how they carry themselves and how they treat people.
The next time you’re having an insecurity crisis, remember, being a grown woman isn't about wearing business suits, having a mortgage or a degree. It’s about trying your best, handling your business and just generally making an effort to be a good person. But let’s be real; if you’re pushing 25 you should probably have a bank account and know how to hold your liquor. I’m just saying…
What do you consider “grown woman status”?