As a 20-something girlwomanchildadult, I think a lot about the person, no, woman, I want to become, the qualities I strive to have, and the goals I plan to reach. In the chick lit of the lifetime, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen describes Mr. Darcy's "requirements" of an accomplished woman as having a "thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, all the modern languages" and "possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expression," but also "the improvement of her mind by extensive reading." Now that's quite a list and I sure don't match up. I may have a pretty good knowledge of music in piano and violin, but I can hardly even sing at karaoke, I can only draw stick people, my dancing can only be best described as something similar to Napoleon Dynamite's interpretive modern style, and I am only fluent in two languages that are really rolled into one I like to call Chinglish. Do I possess a certain je ne sais quoi in my walk, voice, and expression? Who knows? And extensive reading? I never even read Pride and Prejudice (I much prefer Harry Potter to the classics) and the last book I read was Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Having Fun Without Me? (And Other Concerns.) So... yeah, womanhood is not looking too promising for me.
So when exactly does a girl become a woman? Despite her head-shaving, car-window-bashing, and paparazzi-flashing behavior, Britney Spears was pretty wise when she sang "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," which must be the anthem of 20-something females everywhere. Other than somehow finding a real company to hire me full-time and actually provide me with healthcare (not an urban legend guys, these jobs DO exist!) and somehow scraping enough money together at the end of each month for ridiculous New York City rent, I have few other adult-like qualities. I still eat ramen sometimes. I still buy girl's x-large clothes on some occasions because they're cheaper and... kind of cute? I still like Hello Kitty as every good Asian girl should. And as for womanly behavior? I scheduled my first ob-gyn appointment and got my first pap smear. (Ew gross, I know, let's never talk about that again.) Am I a woman now? I don't waste my time with boys who don't reply to texts (or they just really lost their phones or died, obviously.) Am I a woman now? I started putting moisturizer and sunscreen on my face daily because I'm scared of looking like a raisin when I'm 50. Am I a woman now? When is it that I take my first step into the secret club of womanhood and suddenly become elegant, wise, and graceful?
And what does it even mean to be a modern woman? Despite all that the previous generations have done for us, we're still playing in a man's world and sometimes it seems like we still have to play by their rules. This isn't yet another article whining about how hard it is to be a woman and "having it all." I remember reading a quote from designer Prabal Gurung in Vogue (I'm not really that into fashion. It's just one of those chic womanly grownup magazines I thought I should be subscribed to and happens to have some pretty pictures I like flipping through when I'm on the elliptical) where he says, "I was thinking, what is a strong female? Doesn't necessarily have to be tough. Could be pretty." Although I'm pretty sure he was talking about clothes, I think this philosophy applies to being a woman. I think the generation before already fought the battle for us. They had to be ice queens to show they were as steely tough as the boys. They had to be called the office bitch in order to be taken seriously for the promotion. They had to be Super Woman (aka Hilary Clinton.) So now, we don't have to try to be like a man. Why should we? Anything a man can do, a woman can do while wearing five inch heels! We can be feminine and tough as nails at the same time. We should embrace our womanhood and the fact that we have emotions and compassion because god forbid we be human. It's even been scientifically proven that woman have more of the qualities needed in a leader because of our ability for empathy. We are woman and proud.
And now that I've mentioned every cliché needed for a woman-related article (Jane Austen, Britney Spears, and Hilary Clinton), what's next for the 20-something girlwomanchildadult? I think it's choice. Being a modern woman means having the choice of being whatever you want to become. If you want to be married to your job and climb the corporate ladder, go for it and don't stop until you're the CEO and married to your lovely stay-at-home-dad of a husband. Or if you want to quit the rat race and just become a baby machine in a white-picket fenced house in Connecticut, go forth and prosper! Or maybe something in the middle with a good job, nice husband, no kids, and enjoying the DINK (double income no kids) lifestyle. Just be happy with your choice. I think that's the modern woman, realizing you can have whatever you want and just being happy with whatever decision you've made. It's choosing happiness. It's being woman.