The complicated relationship women have with ageism timelines is infamous, with no expiration date in sight. There is something innate within us that makes us feel that by a certain age, we need to have experienced various achievements. We need to have an amazing career by 25, be married by 28 (which is usually the biggest one we feel pressure to achieve early), start a family by 30 and travel to different countries by 40. These types of ageism timelines can cause such mental toil in our minds. Then, we become enormously hard on ourselves when our ageism timelines don’t add up to what our current life looks like. Why is this? Why do we as women structure ourselves and our lives in such an intense way?
Our ageism timelines start to take effect at a very early age. From the actors on TV shows we grew up watching to the magazines we flipped through with perfectly put-together women, and the people we knew personally that embodied all that we aspired to be—the root of our ageism timelines began with us seeing someone/something that we deeply felt we needed to be, look like and have, all by certain ages. Your parents have this grand love story of how they met, so you, too, need to have a grand love story to tell your kids. Your oldest brother became the youngest partner at his law firm at the age of 28, so now you are taking on incredibly hard and draining cases so that you can hopefully make partner at 26. It’s a plethora of various life combinations that set us on the path to create our ageism timelines.
Another thing us women don’t do well with is “going with the flow.” It is something that we simply struggle to do because we need to know everything. We need precise structure, healthy balance, deep meaning and crystal-clear understanding about every and all things. We need to know exactly how something can get done, every reason why it needs to get done, the exact timeframe it needs to be done by and what will be the worst-case scenario if it doesn’t get done at all. That is simply how we are wired internally.
Having an extreme “pressurized” mentality is what leads to and contributes to the creation of our tortuous ageism timelines. What I mean by that is that we take a synopsis of our life, compare it to others we know and instantly make a mental checklist of all the things we need to get done now or by a certain age in order to “look” successful and happy by our standards, as well as society’s. The problem with this type of thinking is that life is constantly showing and teaching us how nothing ever truly goes as planned, and a lot of times, we should be thankful that it doesn’t. There is always some situation or epiphany that makes us realize the extreme limitations we put on ourselves by thinking we should be in a certain place in our lives by a certain time and possess certain materials. This is the wrong way to think about life.
The enormous world of today’s social media plays a big role in comparing our lives to others, and thus the creation of more ageism timelines. Major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are updated every day by people who are either sharing their journey on how they became successful or bragging about how successful they are, and all the materialistic things they have acquired along the way. Women will see posts from other women who look like us and are the same age, but those women are entrepreneurs who post about their latest luxury purchase at Chanel while we, irritated nine-to-five employees, are trying to figure out how to pay our past due electric bill. We see these posts and instantly feel some type of way and tally up what our lives are lacking. We always forget, however, that what’s posted on social media is all an image. Sure, the women are actual entrepreneurs, but at the end of the day, they have their struggles, too—they just only post the “good stuff’ like everyone else. There is never a need to look at someone else’s posts and feel envious, thinking you are “behind” in life. We all have our own unique journeys for a reason.
We women need to recognize our ageism timelines as soon as we start conjuring them in our heads. The first thought that crosses our mind saying, “I need to have at least three successful businesses by 28,” needs to be reworded as “I would love to have at least three successful businesses by 28.” It’s all about perspective, so approaching our goals and dreams from a calmer and gentler place will allow us the time we need to truly flourish and grow. We have to remember that great things always take time and life has enough pressures of its own, so there is no need for us to add even more unnecessary pressures. If you are a firm believer in God as I am, then you know, too, that God does not do anything by our timelines. Everything that is supposed to happen in our lives happens on His timeline and His timeline alone. One of my favorite sayings is “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”; so, imagine how much we make God laugh hysterically in tears at our ageism timelines.
When it comes down to it, we women must end our complicated relationship with ageism timelines. Creating them only sets us up to be depressed when our lives do not look like what we envisioned they “should” at whatever age we mentally set it to. Ageism timelines can be detrimental to our mental health, as well, because we push ourselves too hard to meet some extremely idealized goal. Have your dreams and goals of course, but stop putting an immensely restrictive timeline on when they all need to be achieved by. Remember, it’s all about God’s timing, not ours.
Author: Kennisha L. Crawford
Author Bio: Believer in God & Jesus | Creative | Visionary | Positive Vibes Giver
Link to your social media: Instagram @kl_craw | Twitter @kl_craw