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a woman rides a bike
by
Kelley Murphy
,
August 3, 2022

It's Time To Be Who You Are

Do I even like Pop-Tarts?

The breadth and depth of our pooled capacity has the potential to bring the patriarchy to its knees.

I love Gilmore Girls. My sister and I have seen every season and every episode multiple times.

If you missed it, the series focuses on the close relationship between a mother and daughter, and the dialogue is witty pop-culture heaven.

As the teenage daughter develops, she inevitably comes to a point of individuation where she questions what beliefs are her’s and that which she adopted from her mother.

In one angst-ridden scene, while making breakfast, she realizes she has been eating pop tarts all her life just because her mom loves them.

“Do I even like pop tarts?” she rants as she hurls the pastry across the kitchen.

I try to ask myself if I even like pop tarts as often as possible. I have learned that as a Gen X (read: midlife) woman in American society today, there are mad barriers to living authentically.

Let’s start with the most obvious.

It’s the patriarchy, stupid.

If you identify as a woman today in America, you are inherently a second-class citizen. We work more, spend more, and make much less than our male counterparts.

The irony is maddening. Women represent 70–80% of all consumer purchasing. We are the economy, yet we do not control the system.

We are manipulated by advertising into buying things men tell us we need.

The beauty industry tells us it is unacceptable for women to age, so we sink thousands of dollars into creams and serums to meet the standard that’s imposed upon us.

The oppression of women in our culture is so deeply woven into our subconscious that we are blind to the origins of our ennui, our persistent sense of emptiness.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve become disengaged from my soul and I seek to fill the nagging void with Netflix binges and a good Cab Sav. But now it’s all bubbling up.

Our true selves, our wild, creative souls, are screaming in silence, and we need to hear their messages.

“I don’t like women.”

One of the most insidious consequences of a male-driven consumer-based society is that it fosters competition and strife between women.

I’ve been practicing mental health counseling for the past ten years. I remember the first time a female client of mine told me she didn’t like women.

My gut reaction was disgust and mistrust. What??? So you’re saying you prefer the company of men? I was appalled, but didn’t lead with that, of course.

Through our work together, we unpacked her beliefs, leading to a cascade of awakenings for her and me.

Since that time, I have worked with many women who present with this belief.

I have learned that women are taught by familial and societal conditioning to see one another as rivals. We learn we must compete for status, beauty, and men.

This is a brilliant tool the patriarchy uses to keep us feeling isolated and alone. The biggest threat to the status quo is the collective power of women.

The breadth and depth of our pooled capacity has the potential to bring the patriarchy to its knees.

Midlife is our Call To Acation.

So many things change for us as we enter menopause. On top of the acutely uncomfortable physical shifts, many of us begin to struggle with existential angst.

We begin to question why we are doing what we are doing and for whom.

We get bored, depressed, anxious, and restless as our identity as sexually viable beings to fade. We don’t know who we are without being defined by our attractiveness to men.

This is the call. The Hero’s Journey. The Dark Night of the Soul is upon us. This is OUR time.

We have so much lived experience and resilience. We have been through hell and survived. We are powerful beyond imagination. We can do hard things.

In the weeds.

When we begin to struggle with purpose it’s time to find meaning. Finding meaning in life means disentangling from the herd mentality and connecting with your soul.

This is particularly difficult for women, as we are community builders and harmonizers by nature. Going against the grain feels wrong at first.

Peeling off the imposed masks is uncomfortable and exhausting, but deprogramming is imperative to grow and thrive in our second half.

Let’s take this journey together. Are you ready?

...

Kelley Murphy

Counselor, Coach, and Questioner. I identify as a Gen X woman with a passion for ideas and connection. I am finally actually writing instead of just reading and longing. Another wonderful and terrifying opportunity I’m running with in mid-life. I can’t wait to learn more!

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