Sunday, March 11, 2012

Battle of the Sexes

Whoever said Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus was a bit too optimistic when it comes to the distance dividing the two genders.  This comes to mind as I just had a brief exchange yesterday regarding a female friend who was recently in an "engagement" with another female involving their mutual male friend.  Said male friend summarily dismissed the argument as "you women are so competitive with each other".   In this case, the man in question held his ground on that point and continued to wash his hands of the matter, even after the other party tried to pull him into the tussle.   Eventually the matter resolved itself and neither women talk to each other anymore.  But the guy...well, maybe he would have been better served to mediate the situation rather than stick his head in the sand as he is ultimately the one who now has to dance back and forth between his two friends. 

I think this scenario just serves to further demonstrate how most women will approach these tete-a-tete interactions on an immediate emotional level, always reacting based on how the other party is making them feel.  Likewise, when women see their friends being "attacked" by a third party, they will always react from an emotional angle and immediately come to the defense of their friend.   In reverse, most men tend to evaluate a situation and wait it out, rather than reacting from an emotional place.   Which is the better way?  I really don't know.  There is a saying that "Cooler Heads Always Prevail", but is that truly the case?  I think there is something to be said for instinct and intuition; your initial reaction will almost always be correct.  In my experience, if something (or someone) doesn't pass the sniff test, it's likely there is something rotten at the core.   

Maybe neither side is right.  Chinese philosophy touts the existence of ying/yang: the two fundamental principles definining the balance and behavior of the feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) in people and in nature.  These differences keep life interesting and unpredictable.    It could very well be this is the driving force behind the continuing survival of the human race... this constant "battle" fuels the fire within us and compels us towards each other.  We get off on the challenge of overcoming obstacles and striving towards successful relationships - not just intimate relationships as not all couples are male/female, but how we relate to everyone in every  type of situation we encounter in our day-to-day lives. 

At the end of the day, maybe we just weren't meant to understand each other, but rather to just accept our differences and learn to coexist with each other. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rock the Ages

"Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
- Mark Twain 

Upon entering my fourth decade a year and a quarter ago, I thought back on a time when I was a teenager and 40 just seemed me.  Back then I thought for sure by the time I was 40 I'd be married, with a couple kids, living in New Hampshire a stone's throw away from my aged parents.   Now at 41, I'm single, childless and living 3000 miles away from parents who really aren't that aged. Clearly, God has another plan for me.

I hung out for the first time with a new friend yesterday.  He is a dapper, young, up-and-coming musician with a bright smile and charming disposition.  After a brief meeting the previous Saturday, we decided to get together for a getting-to-know-you beer and game of pool.  Animated chitchat ensued and the subject eventually came around to age.  After trying to laughingly divert him, I admitted I was 41.  He nearly fell down in shock.  You see, good genes and a lifelong obsession with moisturizing & SPF 50 have served me well.  I don't look my age, nor do I act my age.  When I ask people how old they think I am, I get guesses anywhere from 27-34.   

It's ironic that when I was younger I used to loathe my baby face.  I wanted to look as mature as my more sophisticated classmates.  My mother used to tell me "Honey, don't worry.  Someday you will appreciate that beautiful baby face!"  Naturally, I thought she was crazy because moms have to say that stuff,  but alas...Mother was right.  Again.

(Side bar - I laugh now when I think back on an incident that happened with my mom in Target a few years ago.  We were walking through the store joking about something, and I made a snarky comment that prompted a nearby woman to turn to my mother and say "I have a teenager myself at home, so I know what you are going through!".  I was 35 at the time...)

In any event, my new friend shared with me he was feeling a little uncomfortable about turning 26.  I mulled that over for a couple seconds and replied that I recalled that time in my 20s when I felt the same time was slipping away from me and getting older was just a scary proposition. However, with each passing year I am more accepting of my age.  I don't believe that I need to lie about the fact that I am 41, even if I don't look the part, just because of the perception that 40+ is "old".

And I certainly don't feel 41, which in itself can be a bit of a struggle.  Speaking to my boss a couple years ago when I was still 30-something, he told me that things happen when you turn 40; people start taking you more seriously and have greater expectations of you.  I have to say he was right.  Particularly in my corporate life, I feel a certain amount of pressure to conform to how others think I should be acting and doing.  It's certainly put me in a different place than I was just a few short years ago.  That's not to say I am not up for the task, but it requires an adjustment in thinking, and how I approach my work.  That being said, I absolutely refuse to cave completely to what I view as unrealistic expectations rooted in outdated societal standards.

At the end of the day, age really is nothing but a number.  More importantly, how you choose to live your life is what really matters.  Think young, be young.  That's how it goes.