I used to think that my pre-teens would be the only time in my life when I could safely say I was at an awkward age.
Turns out, being a divorced woman, without kids, in your 40s is a very close second.
My awkwardness exists on several planes.
First, I’m childless. You don’t grasp the full effects of having children (or not) until you reach this stage in your life. Children have a way of keeping you busy and occupied (obviously). What’s not so obvious is how when you don’t have them in your life, the vast expanse of time you have available. While many of my parent friends probably find this a slice of heaven on earth, it can be very daunting….and lonely.
Most of my 40-something friends are in the heyday of their child-rearing. They’re exhausted, they’re confused, they’re wondering if they’ll survive the next 12 years. People like me throw off the curve. I’m a childless mystery wrapped up in a parenting enigma. I had kids, but I didn’t. I had them in my 30s, but they’re no where to be seen now. I lost them but they weren’t ever mine to begin with. I’ve experienced loss on the levels to which most parents can’t even begin to understand, but it’s not proper cocktail party fodder, so we don’t talk it and it gets lost among my story.
I’m at an awkward age because my age and my look don’t seem to coincide with one another. I’m 42 but barely look a day out of my early 30s. I’m told I often trip people up because of this. I’m too young for some, too old for others. On the surface, I don’t look old enough to have born witness to some of life’s deeper experiences like children, death, and loss, but I’ve experienced them more than one person should. I act like everything is okay and that if I’m funny or smiling then people won’t find me weird or dramatic, but in reality, I’m just as socially awkward as the next person.
I’m at that awkward age because most of the men in my age group are going through a divorce, just got divorced, or are so over women that relationships just aren’t in their wheelhouse. Either that or they’re still married but looking for a side chick to keep their d*cks wet. I’ve lost track of the number of men who have told me they’re just looking for something physical because they can’t invest in a woman anymore. I stopped counting the number of men who have placed me in the friendzone for reasons which I’ll never ask about because the fear of rejection or truth is too much to handle.
I’m at that awkward age because I know a hell of a lot more about myself now than I did in my 20s, but I’m not sure how to speak my truth or have my voice heard and how to do it by myself. Being a strong, emotional and mental bad-ass is a lonely proposition. I want to be known as being assertive, but sweet; kind, but aggressive. I don’t know how to do that without pissing off a lot of people along the way. My squad of trusting confidants is already small; I’m at an impasse of how to keep things on an even keel.
I’m at that awkward age because I want to find love and be loved, but without sacrificing the sum of my 42 years of parts that make me the individual I am.