In which I am a woman, not a girl

Darling, I am not a girl anymore.

I am a woman.

I am thirty-two damn years old and proud of every day of it.

When did it become hard to call myself a woman? Since when did we decide that being a girl forever and ever was preferable to being a grown-up woman?

Be a girl forever, the world demands. Never get a wrinkle. Do sit ups until you pass out so that your tummy resembles a pop star. Oh, while you’re at it shave all of the hair from your body because we much prefer that pre-pubescent look, you know, and no, that doesn’t make me pervy, it makes you judgemental. Feel guilty for your curves and agonize over the marks of living your life like your stretch marks. Wear clothes like a teenager and play video games all day, resent the grown-up things like raising babies and paying bills. Don’t dare to read real books but while away your time on magazine quizzes. Inoculate yourself to the real world by the distractions of decorating and fashion, you know the “women’s section” of the newspaper. Shudder at the words responsibility and honour, simplicity and prayer, civility and kindness. Exalt immature passions and first-kisses but scoff at the long road to the front porch sitting, calling elderly couples “cute” instead of inspiring. Impatience marks youth and so we want it all now, consuming and eating and spending without consequence, everything from cars to computers to people, a generation of grasshoppers.

I am not yearning to go back to my youth (and not only because of the angst, oh, the angst!). If those were the best days of our lives, luv, then why would I bother to get out of bed today? No, today is it, today I am the grown-up, today I am the woman, the wife, the mother, the world-changer. Today is thirty-two years of loving and learning added up and poured out. It has taken thirty-two years to change from a know-it-all to an open and broken-hearted lover of life, poured out, every crack a place for the Light to escape, my hands finally unclenched and held out.

Grow up, my bones whisper, leave behind the angst, the self-consciousness, the hyper-self-awareness of youth and open your eyes to see the world around you.

I am not seeking my youth anymore, not taking my cues from the teenagers or the perpetually young. I am not satisfied with the bread and circuses of our youth-obsessed culture. I want the fruit of the Spirit, the bread of Life, the crimson wine and the humility to pull out the seat next to me, inviting Wisdom to sit down for a spell.

Can’t you see it? They all want us to shrug our shoulders, ladies, and simper, I’m just a girl. There is no “just” to being a woman. It’s a statement of the lines of your face, the wisdom you’ve gleaned and swallowed, say it out loud, I own my years, every one of them, and I am not a young girl, I am a woman in the thick of my life, living it, a force, a calling, a voice crying in the wilderness for Love.

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  • suzannah | the smitten word

    oh yes, indeed.  you are one hell of a woman and a wordsmith to be reckoned with!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Right backatcha.

  • Rea

    Bravo! (I feel as if I should stand and applaud or something.)

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    Preach! :-) 

  • Emily @ The Pilot’s Wife

    Yes, m’am. This is GOOD stuff.

  • Jennifer Lundberg

    Love this!
    It took me 36 years to realize I did not know it all but I am so thankful I finally figured out this world is a wide open place with so much to behold and so much to let go. It took my 38 years to get to the place where I am ok being the me God made me. People may comment about my life choices, my choice to leave time in my day to read a real book or margins in our schedule so my kids can just play. They may comment about my lack of style or my lack of volunteer hours at the school (I volunteer just not all the time). But their comments, their opinions are no longer part of my decision making process. Does my day, does my work, does my love please God? That is the question I am asking now as a woman. 

    • Sarah Bessey

      That is a great way to put it, Jen “Does my day, does my work, does my love please God?” Amen.

  • Beccanmast

    Oh to have the Grace to embrace this! Thank you for the reminder! I am constantly pulled by single siblings to “enjoy” life (read: act single) I want to have the Grace to enjoy the life I am living without feeling guilty or less worthy for loving my husband and children and desiring to be with them. I adore your honesty and unapologetic womanhood. Thank you!

    • Sarah Bessey

      You’re welcome – I think a lot of us feel the same way, luv.

  • Young Mom

    I feel like I’ve never really been a girl, and yet I’m just discovering what it’s like to be a woman. My girlhood sucked, I would never go back to it. In fact my life has gotten so much better as the years go on, I am looking forward to the future, and I have to remind myself that it’s OK to live here and now.

    • Sarah Bessey

      All being redeemed, indeed. You always inspire, YM.

  • Lindsey

    I’m only just realizing this year that while I may not quite have the hot teenaged body I had before four children, the satisfaction of looking back on my younger years and realizing how far I’ve come spiritually and what I’ve gained in just plain wisdom might be worth more than looks. 
    I’m sharing this post everywhere I can. Thank you.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Lindey! I appreciate that – and yes, it’s worth way more and I’d trade them all over again in a heart beat, too.

  • Jenn

    Amen friend! I am a force a force to be reckoned with, ready to be grown up. Beautifully written…it makes me want to get up and cheer ;).

  • Kamille Scellick

    Standing ovation & hooting & hollering with my hairy body, wrinkles in my baby belly, lined thighs & hips.  I’m reminding of Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman.”

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, I love that poem.

  • Carrington

    I’m only 25, but I pay bills and make babies and don’t connect to the “youth” around me at all…. is it still okay for me to say “Amen!” at this post? 

    • Sheena Tatum

      What Carrington said… but I’m 24 :).

      • Sarah Bessey

        Of course and bless you for it!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Absolutely, my dear Carrington! Let’s be grown ups!

  • Alyssa

    Amen and Amen. I have felt this way for years. I have always believed that embracing life (whatever stage in you’re in) is how you actually live it. I didn’t yearn to be 25 when I was 17. I don’t miss being 21 now that I”m on the verge of 30. I’m also not pining for 40 (although I must admit there’s definitely days where I have excited anticipation for that season). Thank you for reminding us of this! 

    • Sarah Bessey

      That’s a great way to put it, embrace the stage you’re *in*.

  • Sara Sophia


    Preach it.

    (I LOVE YOU)

  • Diana Trautwein

    Oh, preach it, sister! Thank you for the passion and the exquisite fine-tuning of the words.  And Happy Birthday, too.  :>)  (Even if it’s not, the wish holds for a full year, at least.) From 30-60 is glory, glory, glory – becoming and being a full grown-up, strong woman. The 60’s and 70’s ain’t bad either – but I’m so, so sad to see what’s happening in and to my dear mom as she turns into her 10th decade. 

    So, sweet Sarah, appreciate the fire, the energy, the passion (and the fatigue of child-rearing, too) and make it work for you, sweetie. Just like you’re doing.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I love this, Diana —> “From 30-60 is glory, glory, glory.” What a blessing to have women like you around us, a bit ahead on the path, telling us it’s good to go forward. Amen!

  • Shannon Rae


  • Christy

    Love it!  Great read for my 31st birthday today.  

    • Sarah Bessey

      Happy birthday! :-)

  • Leah Cadieux

    If this is what we get when you are feeling yell-y and emotional and soapboxish I say YES to being yell-y more often!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Ha! If you only knew how many yell-y posts are sitting in my drafts folder…. Sometimes it’s good to just let them sit but now and then, I just can’t help myself!

  • Amy Ellison

    Aw shoot, girl. You nailed it. 

    I didn’t shave today, and I’m not going to shave tomorrow. In honor of this most perfect post. 

    • Sarah Bessey

      Now that’s a high honour! Ha!

  • SortaCrunchy

    Sing it and bring it, sister. As you are so good to holler at me across the netz, WAVING WHITE HANKIE!

  • Rain

    Warrioress becomes you. :-) LOVE this post. Preach it!!!! <3

  • Sarah R

    LOVE this! 

    I just our son down for a nap after a wonderful day, and I thought to myself that I no longer remember what I did with all my time before him.  He has enriched my husband’s and my lives so much.  I’m loving the “grown-up things like raising babies”.  (I still don’t like paying bills though!)

    • Sarah Bessey

      Well, does any one like *having* bills? Nah. 

  • Janet Oberholtzer

    As an even older woman (age 45) I am in awe (and yes, jealous) that you are realizing this as age 32 … your life will be so much better because you are realizing this early.

    I’m short ( 5’3″ if I stretch) so I’ve been called cute all my life and continue to be called cute. Short women are never beautiful or even seen as women, they are just called cute. So since I’m called cute, I feel like a girl which justifies me not acting like a woman … because if everyone thinks I am a cute girl then I will be one. 

    Dammit! If you can be a woman … so can I!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Amen! And I hereby swear not to call a short woman cute again, in your honour. 

  • hyacynth

    “I want the fruit of the Spirit, the bread of Life, the crimson wine and the humility to pull out the seat next to me, inviting Wisdom to sit down for a spell. “YES! So beautifully expressed. 

  • Sarah Askins

    A to the freakin MEN! 
    It’s high time we quit fearing being a grown woman!

  • Katherine A Michael

    I’m in love with this post for so many reasons.

  • Lindsey

    I love this.  Gorgeous.  Thank you. xox

  • Tina Francis/ @teenbug

    A generation of grasshoppers. Wow. I love that!!!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Thanks, Tina (P.S. Soon? Coffee one evening after I get Evie down for a sleep?)

  • elizabethesther


    • Sarah Bessey

      You crack me up. Boom!

  • Canita

    Can I say hell yeah??  Hell yeah, sister-friend!  :)

    • Sarah Bessey

      Hell yeah, you can. 😉

  • JetandPlay

    Oh my! This has to be the best post ever!

  • That Uncomfortable Itch

    ” Grow up, my bones whisper, leave behind the angst, the
    self-consciousness, the hyper-self-awareness of youth and open your eyes
    to see the world around you.”

    One of the best sentences I’ve read in a very long time. AS I approach my 41st birthday on Monday I will be thinking these words. Thanks for sharing.

  • Erin Adams

    Yell it!  Glory!  Being a girl was sweet & nice.  Being a woman is beautiful & powerful!  

  • Alisoncreamer

    OH !!!!! Hear me roar , love the way you put this. There is a season for all things and you helped me see my new seasons can be even more beautiful then the last. My last 7 months of my 30’s I will savor it but I will face 40 with a open arms. I am a WOMAN.

  • Lucky 744

    It has felt a little weird for me to embrace the title of being a woman at 22, since I am the youngest of four children and have always been known as a “girl.” Funny thing how we never call grown men “boys” except in the term “boyfriend.”