The week before I left for school this summer, my best friend told me, “I had a dream that Evelyn got her first period last night.”
Evelyn is my best friend’s nine-year-old sister. I don’t remember a lot about the scary time of puberty, but the part that I do remember is that I was oddly very excited to get my first period. It was a sign of womanhood, something my middle school self was so excited to attain.
Ever since I had learned about puberty in my sex education classes, I was on a constant search for signs of my becoming a woman. I tend to refer to this phase as my “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” phase. I feel as though this book is the most iconic coming-of-age book for girls in the entire world, but I hadn’t read it until recently.
I found Margaret’s need to push through puberty and become, what she saw in her eyes as a woman, odd but familiar. This naive sense of womanhood felt similar to what I had thought at a similar age.
Margaret is like what I used to be. She stuffs her bra with tissues when her breasts don’t grow fast enough, she’s on constant alert for signs of her getting her first period, and is constantly looking out for boys to notice her.
I was the same. I was excited to blossom over summer like many movies depicted, and I was excited to grow up. I wanted to be a woman, I wanted my first kiss, I didn’t realize the price that I had to pay in exchange.
Being a woman is not how I used to imagine. I didn’t know that womanhood meant getting catcalled on my 500 foot walk home between dorm buildings one late Saturday night. I didn’t know that womanhood would be getting stared at because of the clothes I wear, or involve crying over not being able to find a bra that fits.
It was easy for me to get caught up in the illusion that womanhood is beautiful and to ignore the scary and daunting parts that come along with it. It’s easy to rush womanhood because you don’t know what it really means. I’m still constantly wanting to experience things that will somehow make me a “woman.”
But I wish I wasn’t so eager to grow up. And I wish I could tell my past self that it’s okay. That I’ll reminisce the days when I wasn’t a woman more as I get older.