I was really struggling with picking a quote for my April Staff Rant (and writing, overall). Although I journal daily, I haven’t been doing any creative writing for the bulk of the pandemic, and I feel like my writing muscles have atrophied a bit. I’ve been putting off writing this for a month (more, if I’m being honest) and finally made myself sit down and write something — anything! I figured I could clean it up later in my editing process.

I thought about all of the topics I could possibly write about and came up with nothing. I feel like my brain is broken, and throughout this past year, it’s all I can do to keep up with my full-time job, my family and friends, what’s happening in the world etc. It’s exhausting. I am exhausted. I am so lucky to have received my second Moderna COVID vaccine (today, April 20!!) and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

During the pandemic, like many people I have turned to books as an escape and a way to cope with *gestures wildly* everything happening. I recently read a book called The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now and I have some thoughts on societal expectations of your 20s and 30s in general. This quote from Greta Gerwig’s 2019 remake of Little Women says it all:

Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.”

Jo March said this to Marmee after she *spoiler alert* turned down Laurie’s marriage proposal. Obviously, things have changed since the 19th century in regards to societal expectations of women, but not enough in my opinion. As a single soon-to-be 27-year-old, I feel like the only single (and not dating currently because HELLO, pandemic!) woman of all of my friends; that everyone is already coupled up; and that I am somehow “behind,” as if life is a race that I am losing.

In my mid-to-late twenties, I want to focus on my career and cultivate my family relationships and friendships that are important to me. If a romantic relationship happens to fit into that, great, but it’s not my first priority. I still lowkey feel the societal pressure, or perhaps internal pressure, to be coupled up and “have a plus-one” for social occasions. Women’s lives are complicated by the fact that fertility peaks at 28 (just over a year away for me!!) and starts declining by 35. So theoretically if I ever want biological children, according to this book I read, and societal expectations, I better get cracking. There’s already so much pressure on millennials, particularly millennial women, and it’s sometimes hard to tune it out and focus on what *you* want without any of the residual guilt or bad feelings.

I have hope that, as societal expectations have changed and shifted for women over the centuries, future generations of girls and young women will not be so confined by these expectations. Or at least, banish the social guilt from their minds and not focus on it so much.

-Sage Daugherty
Associate Editor
Girl Museum Inc.

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