Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

When Was The First Time You Felt Like a Woman?

Woman with Hand to Her Chin

The reason why I ask is because I was watching an Oprah episode where the question of, "When did you first realize you were a man?" came up. And it made me question when did I first feel like a woman.

You become a woman when you start your period. The first time you have sex makes you a woman. Womanhood really begins once you get married and have children. You're officially a woman at 18. When you move out of your mama's house and start paying your own bills, that's when you've become a woman.

These were some of the milestones I was told growing up that takes a girl from ponytails and baby dolls to womanhood. Most of them missed the mark. I did not feel like a woman when I first started my period. The only things I felt that week were stomach cramps. As for losing my virginity in my 20's, no "Welcome to Womanhood" bells there. It's hard for me to pinpoint one significant moment marking my womanhood. College courses on black feminism and the black female body had a major impact on how I felt the world perceived me as a woman of color. I've said it before, Dorothy Roberts Killing the Black Body was a life-changing book for me. Through those courses I gained a greater appreciation of women's rights. Also in college I learned to embrace my prissiness which is a part of my own femininity and womanhood.

My relatives were right about leaving home and paying your bills makes you feel grown. I left home for college, but finishing graduate school and working as a news producer made me feel even more like a woman. My wardrobe went from Forever 21 to the INC dept at Macy's. I bought suits and a spiffy Samsonite garment bag suitcase for business travel. You know you mean business when you need a garment bag for your suits. I was making money, paying my bills, getting my hair and nails done regularly, dating and loving the the night life--ahhhh womanhood tastes great. A few years later the big R crashes my party--Recession. No job, barely making my bills and the Samsonite luggage is collecting dust because the business trips are on standby. Now I'm in the "Ain't got no" phase. "I ain't go no man. I ain't got no money. I ain't got no job." NOOOOOOO! This is the phase of womanhood where I really learned how much strength I really had inside. I also had to learn being a woman means allowing people to help you when they offer. It was also a reminder that things and lifestyle don't make the money. I learned how to do my own hair and walk past the Coach bag store without looking in the window. Oh and I can stretch a dollar from here to Venus. Womanhood is tasting like bitter medicine. My face scrunches up after taking every tablespoon, but I'll feel better in the end.

Which leads to me to what I think is a very, pivotal moment in a woman's life. A moment that really shapes you as a woman. You don't give a sh*t what people think. It's the best feeling. For some it happens in their 30s, others as late as their 80s. I'm 31 now and the older I get the less I care what people think. If she doesn't like me, so what. They have a problem with my hair. Well they're not paying for my salon visits so forget them. Can't handle how I live my life? Like Sinatra said, "I did it my way." Putting yourself first and ignoring those who judge is one of the best and most liberating feelings. We women put ourselves last. Tuning out the nay-sayers or saying no to someone who asks you to do something you know you don't want to do--ahhh womanhood is tasting sweeter again. I'm not arguing to not take into consideration people's feelings or hurt them, but if your decision is not the end of the world then live your life. Since holding this freeing belief, I've felt more and more connected to myself as a human and as a woman. And I appreciate that woman in the mirror a little more.

When did you first feel like a woman?


  1. My first trip to Europe. Thank You men of the EU!!!

  2. Oooh girl do-tell. We may have to talk about your trip offline. ;) I went to Europe for the first time 5 years ago and it was an incredible experience. It was a summer of a lifetime and I can't wait to go back again and again one day. Sometimes that kind of attention from another man or woman, depending on who you're attracted to, can make you recognize your womanhood. Thanks for your comment XaiXai.

  3. I first felt like a woman when I held a baby in junior high and realized that I could become pregnant. I could MAKE one of those. Again I felt like a woman when I dropped the first man I slept with off at the airport the day after, and "Love Letter" by Bonnie Raitt was playing in the airport. I next felt like a woman when I went in for an abortion (same guy) and when I was crying, the nurse, in broken English, said: This happens to us.. And again when I had my first apartment... it just goes on. It's a trip.

  4. @ Citizen--Wow, thanks for sharing. Your commment blew me away. Sometimes hardships, like your abortion and broken heart, remind us of our womanhood. I remember the first time I felt I had to prove myself because I was a woman was in journalism school. There was some sexism going on with students and a couple of teachers. And independence makes us recognize our womanhood too. Such as your first apartment. Thanks again for your comment.


Post a Comment