Nicole and I sat on the bottom step, reminiscing over the soccer season just ended, our fourth coaching together. “I saw your body language when you went over to that coach on the field,” she said, laughing. “He didn’t know who he was messing with.”

“I’m so glad to reach a point in my life where my friends know me and love me for who I am,” I said, laughing right along.

Strong-minded, opinionated, direct, a leader. Compassionate, poetic, articulate, focused. Sometimes I have no sense of humor. Sometimes I am way too serious. But you get to a point in life where you accept who you are and stop trying to change to please others. Those who want you to be different just disappear from your life because you have no time for them.

The other night, The Way We Were was on TV, with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in all their period excellence. (Watch a clip here.)

The scenery, costumes, passion and vigor of the 1930s-1950s was gorgeous in this film. The familiar refrain of the title song, Streisand’s iconic voice a plaintive wail.

About halfway through, I had to turn it off. The reason? Because I hate to see a woman trying to change herself to please a man or fit in to a crowd that is just not her type of people.

It’s all too familiar to me – it’s what I did in my younger years. Even ride the metaphor – Streisand starts the movie as an ardent college student leading the Young Communists League her curly-frizzy hair signature around her odd-looking face. Later in the movie, when the blond popular preppy falls in love with her, her hair is ironed and she tries to tame herself amid his bland WASPy friends.

“It’s what Hollywood too often does to women,” Dan said. Then he deconstructed Friends

“The one career-minded character, Monica, the one with the strong opinion and personality, subdues herself to fit into the notion of a woman marrying, having babies and moving to the suburbs,” he said. “By the end of the series, she had abandoned everything.”

It’s just a TV sitcom, I know, and it’s just a movie. It’s always just.

The strong women of the world have it hard enough trying to find someone who will accept us exactly as we are. And when you hit that point in life where not only you love yourself for all your opinions and loud voices, others do too, well that’s the sweet spot that we strive for all the livelong day.

What is wrong with our world, that the core character of who you are just isn’t good enough? That a woman with a voice and an opinion and confidence is unattractive? Who said straight hair was the only definition of beauty?

I dare say we must rebuild our perspectives and educate ourselves anew in what makes a person lovable and attractive and what is truly superficial. The only reason men don’t like strong women is because we make them feel weak; it’s about them – not us. Isn’t there room for everyone to take charge?

Today, I am 41 years old. Life goes by so quickly. I remember being a kid and thinking summer lasted forever. Today, it seems like just yesterday I hit 40. Time flies.

It’s just not worth it to belabor and bemoan, wishing we were different, other, like them. Life’s just too short. I’m here as me in this life, I’d better not only accept it, but LOVE who I am.

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