For many women, we use our age to validate the passing of milestones in our lifetime.
We grow up chronologically declaring hypothetical deadlines for our goals, and the ticking of our biological clocks only complicate our plans.
Actress and activist Tracee Ellis Ross is challenging traditional standards of womanhood by standing firmly in her own truth. Ross recently covered The Sunday Times Style and opened up about life at 45 and what being a woman means to her.
"I'm constantly asking myself questions, reminding myself, 'Are you making that decision for you or someone else?' The husband and the babies are the expectation of what's supposed to happen at a certain point, and people fall back on, 'Well, that's the point of the human species, procreation.' And I'm, like, 'I think there are a lot of babies, isn't that part of what's going wrong, there's too many?' Some people could be working on the world being a better place, or just being happy."
Historically, women are judged for not pursuing a life that meets traditional standards. Society says that if I'm not married or haven't had children by a certain age, something must be wrong with me. Even during biblical times, a woman was considered to have an unproductive life if she was barren or chose not to have children.
As women, we so often focus on our due dates for what society deems as success instead of using our time to find our own happiness in ourselves. Ross says that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone.
"Being 45 is fascinating. It's this extraordinary journey of time passing, and getting to this place where so many of the trappings aren't there, and yet there's so much other rich, fertile stuff happening in my life. It's all a choice. Which is incredibly empowering and can be extremely lonely. My work as an adult has been making friends with the loneliness, and actually coming to terms with the fact that I love it. And I now call it choiceful solitude."
Have you taken the time to water your own garden before you expect to bear fruit?
Tracee's transformation into the woman of her dreams did not come without challenging some of her own ideals. At Glamour's 2017 Women of the Year Summit, Ross challenged us all to become braver versions of ourselves in order to discover our own happiness.
"When we put ourselves first by doing things like saying 'no,' speaking up, sleeping with who we want, eating what our bodies intuitively tell us to eat, wearing training bras instead of push up bras, posting a picture without using Facetune...we are condemned for thinking for ourselves and being ourselves,and being ourselves, for owning our experiences, our bodies, and our lives."
Whether you are 30 and married with children, or 60 and single, you are not defined by your accomplishments or milestones.
Your life is your own. Not your mother's or your children or your spouse's.
Make 2018 the year that you claim ownership of your womanhood and how it relates to who you are right now. Tracee reminds us that we have to take responsibility for our own happiness and find the courage to fight for a life that we love, f*** the standard.