The thing about Tumblr that probably makes me saddest is the underlying assumption that women past a certain age (which seems to be about 25?) stop having any sort of outside interests beyond family/career/kids. Like, y’all are always so shocked that grown women have lives and can fangirl as hard as we did as teenagers.
It makes me sad not because it makes me feel old (although it does), but because these younger women are constricting their own lives–they fully expect that this will happen to them someday. Y’all deserve better. Y’all deserve to EXPECT better.
And worse than that, the idea that there’s something WRONG with a grown woman who has other interests.
One of the biggest things I realized growing up?
It doesn’t happen.
You expect somehow you will change when you are finally An Adult™. You’ll stop enjoying the things you enjoy now for something more “adult” or “mature.” You’ll FEEL like an adult and not like a child anymore. You’ll feel comfortable and secure and not scared and unsure and confused. You expect you will feel like you have your shit together.
But I can tell you that it doesn’t happen. You’ll still feel like the “you” you were at 15 or 17 or 19.
You just have these…things to deal with. Like rent. And insurance.
You have a job either because a) you like it or b) it keeps the lights and internet on.
You’ll look up from fangirling one day and realize “Shit. I am twenty eight years old. That’s almost 30!” Or maybe it will be that you look down at the small child clasped around your legs and realize “That is my child. I have a child. A human being child.” Or maybe it will be that you have to negotiate your budget around con tickets AND a mortgage payment.
Growing up isn’t a thing that happens.
It’s a realization that it doesn’t happen.
Holy shit, y’all. There are some AMAZING responses to this post. Yes, everything alwayshometomarvel says. All that.
Feeling like I wasn’t ‘adult’ enough fucked me up for years. I would cry at night and feel like a total piece of shit because I was married with a kid, and yet I still did ‘not adult’ things–I played MMOs, I cosplayed and went to conventions, I drew fan art and wrote fan fic. I kept waiting for the day that I would wake up and realize that what I really needed to be doing was the laundry, cleaning the house, making dinner every night, etc. Basically, be the ‘perfect’ wife and mother.
And somewhere between then and now, I somehow managed to tell myself…fuck it. I AM an adult. I go to work every day and pay the bills and help raise my son and take care of the house. I do legit adult things. AND I play MMOs, go to conventions, and participate in fandom. And THAT’S OKAY. I’m 32 years old now and finally at peace with that part of myself. (Having a supportive husband and kid doesn’t hurt either!)
All of this is such truth. Believing these things about growing up, and especially about being over 25? Really made it hard for me when I turned 30.
I was literally suicidal on my 30th birthday. I spent the whole day in tears. I felt like I had died and my life was now worthless and small and never going to be hopeful or full of promise or fun again. I felt like killing myself on my birthday because I bought into this lie that somewhere after your mid-twenties, you diminish as a woman because the only thing that made you alive and shiny was your youth.
I’m 31 now and I’m done with that shit. I’m over it. I don’t care if you think I’m too old for something. If I’m an old lady in Tumblr terms, then I’m past the legal age where I’m obligated to care what you think.
So, I’m telling you girls out there right now who are in your teens and twenties, get rid of this idea of what older women are “supposed” to look like. Get rid of this idea that “soccer moms” don’t play video games or that all women over 25 should be married and contemplating kids. Get rid of the idea that fanfic and fandom and fun things are for “kids.”
Mostly, get rid of this notion that the only thing really valuable about you is your youth. Youth is part of life, but it’s not the most valuable or beautiful or exciting time of your life. I like my life at 30 about 1000% than I did at 15, 18, 20, even 25.
on her deathbed, my grandmother pulled my mom close to her and said, “i don’t feel old. i don’t know how i’m supposed to feel. but inside, i still feel seventeen.” when I was a teenager, I used to think that story was sad; sad and strange somehow, like she’d been frozen in time. but now that i am a woman in my thirties, I understand. I understand her. I am a grown woman in the ways that matter. I listen to myself more, trust my experience more. but inside? I still feel the joy and rage and mess; I am still changing. we’re not frozen in time. we are just still growing.
the more we acknowledge that modern “adulthood” is largely a concept designed to sell vacuums and sedans, and not an arbitrary total overhaul of self at age 35, the more we can admit our ongoing capacity– no, our ongoing NEED for play and playfulness and exploration. those are childish things we should never have to put away.
My mom is 50 and still a total fangirl. She filks, she helps run a scifi/fantasy convention (Seattle’s Anglicon), she’s totally crazy about James Marsters, and goes on long rants about the outrage that is Hydra!Cap. She’s my go-to Whovian expert.
Women of any age can be a total tumblr fangirl. And its ok.
I am an Adult now. And I did experience a very definite transition from my bohemian comedy/actor/oddjob lifestyle that I lived in my twenties to the ‘I must care for and provide for a child now’ that happened in my 30s. I remember telling someone in a job interview that I would cut off my (long, beautiful, blond, ringleted) hair if they gave me an offer letter. They did, I did, and I have worn it short ever since.
The responsibilities DO change, so DO embrace and enjoy your youth and freedom while you can. But your passions do not diminish with adulthood and parenting’s responsibilities. I no longer perform on stage or before crowds, but I entertain friends and family. I became a cub scout den leader to entertain kids, and I now run an all ages gaming table at my local games shop so that I can make sure that kids of any age, any race, any orientation or identity, have a safe fun table to play at. Where they can learn to love the hobby the way I did, but in their own way.
I go to LARPs, where I invariably play at least one clown of a character and spend the whole night riffing, because you never lose that skill once you have it.
I play Minecraft with my kids. D&D, Settlers of Cataan. We do weekend dates with another couple and play board games. I joke with my spouse constantly. We laugh, all the time.
So, yes. Time changes you. Your priorities are going to shift, most likely. But I still love the same things, mostly, that I loved 15, 20 years ago. I just love sharing them with my family now.
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