06/26/2014 11:24 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

At What Point Did You Stop Thinking of Yourself as a Girl and Consider Yourself a Woman?

This question originally appeared on Quora: At what point -- age or event -- did individual females stop thinking of themselves as girls and consider themselves women?
Answer by Rachel Laine, Communications Consultant

When I was a young girl I would sit at the top of the stairs which overlooked the open front entryway.  From my makeshift seat on the second floor I would dangle my legs through the stair railing and my small body would overfill with anticipation and glee.  As though I was waiting to spot a celebrity.  At any moment my mother would walk into the entryway and her heels would tap, tap, tap on the tile.  I could see her dress swirl about as she gathered items for her tiny purse.  Her necklace glimmered when it caught the light.  Then dad came in.  He helped her into a dress coat and off they went together into the night.  I imagined the magical places they might go while I stayed home eating macaroni and cheese and watching The Cosby Show.   

To me, that was a woman.  And I so desperately wanted to be one someday.  I wanted to make that addictive "tap, tap, tap, tap" noise wherever I went.  I wanted to swirl and leave just the slightest scent of No. 5 in my wake so that everyone knew I was a glamorous woman.  I wanted to fill a tiny purse with red lipsticks and other womanly things.

I still treasure those delicious memories of my mother, but my definition of what a woman is has metamorphosed from pearls and heels and No. 5 to something much more complex and real.

I did not become a woman when I started wearing Jimmy Choos and little black dresses.  I didn't become a woman when I started menstruating or when I lost my virginity.  And I didn't become a woman when I got married or when I bought my first home.  I didn't become a woman when I no longer saw my parents as parents, but as people.  And I didn't cease being a girl when I graduated from high school or stopped playing with My Little Ponies or stopped having sleepover parties.

Our lives are divided neatly into phases and stages by scientists and medical doctors.  But, outside of the sterile medical office, our "woman-ess" and our "girl-ness" operate much differently.  You don't lose the "girl-ness" that has lived inside of you when you become a woman.  It just takes on a less dominate role.  I reconnect with my girl-ness every time that I ride a carousel or swing on a swing or have a popsicle in the summer.  And every once in a while, even though I'm in my 30's, I still hear her shriek with joy when I slip into my Jimmy Choos.  Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.

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