Getting My F.O. Papers

Take out of the equation the effect of 50 years of gravitational  pull on your body parts, there’s many reasons to love being in your 50′s. Your membership to the sage and wise club is pretty much assured if you can stay awake long enough to pay attention. One of  amazing privileges associated with this exclusive club, in the wise words of comedienne Sandra Shamas, is getting your F.O. papers. Many men seem to have had their F.O. papers handed to them at birth. But for many women, including yours truly, receiving them is a “bring-you-to-your-knees-weep-with-joy” kind of event.

Not that it is an “event” exactly.

Getting your F.O. papers is a lovely little process akin to having your entire body wrapped in that awful, uber sticky, white medical tape and having it removed a centimetre at a time. Over a  50-year time span. For those of you with that puzzled furrow over your brow, F.O. is an acronym. For the obvious. You know…that thing you’ve been dying to say to that cretin of a boss, client, partner, so-called friend and, yes, at times…dare I say it…? Your children.

It seems to me that, until you pass over that magical threshold of 50, the ability to tell those who deserve it to metaphorically F.O. is difficult for most women. That’s because we were raised to believe varying degrees of the following drivel:  1.) Put others ahead of yourself at all costs. And for God’s sake, sublimate what you really want to say or do if it isn’t simpatico with the rest of the group.  2.) It’s impolite to brag (read: talk about what you’re good at.) 3.) Your job is to be peacemaker, not stir up shit.  4.)  Disagreeing with the world’s idiots will hurt their feelings 5.) You’ll sound like a shrew, fishwife, nag, virago, yenta, blah, blah, blah if you dare raise your voice in anger to disagree. (Think Sheila Copps.)

Perhaps I exaggerate for the sake of colourful writing, but there are more than mere kernels of truth in what I speak.  I’ve lived it. And it’s exhausting. Living life without complete authenticity is confusing, demoralizing, dishonest and makes for compromised relationships. The problem is that for many women, the courage it takes for us to be our truly authentic self doesn’t seem to anchor until we slip into our 50th decade (give or take a few years). No doubt, certainly on the authenticity front, it’s somewhat the same for men, but your address would have to involve a cave if you thought the expectations and perceptions of men are the same as women.

That’s why a 50-something woman is so powerful. This authenticity and wisdom is hard won. It becomes cellular primarily because many of us know what it’s like not being able to live it.  Getting your F.O. papers is a rite of passage that women cherish and relish. It’s a ticket to transformation, liberation, and lo and behold a good night’s sleep  (until the night sweats kick in).  To be able to tell it like it is in our little corner of the universe, free of the shackles of  public opinion, being “polite” and fear of hurting other’s feelings  is, as one friend puts it, “Far better than sex…well…at least as good as…”

Frankly, the greatest gift I’ve given my daughter is handing her her F.O. papers at birth: “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” “The world needs your brain and heart. Share it.” “Disagree with your teachers, your parents and your friends but be willing and ready to present your business case.”  “Take care of others by taking care of yourself too.”  Why should our girls pass the half century mark to figure this out?

6 Responses to “Getting My F.O. Papers”

  1. David Taylor Says:

    October 11th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Virago? Really. Seriously?

    Forced me to look it up… On my BB and double espressos have not yet kicked in.

  2. Greg Dalton Says:

    October 11th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    For those us who received their F.O. Papers early in life and have been expressing our opinion expecting others to respond with the F.O. when we are out of line, it is refreshing to know that the conversations are going to get livelier in the second half!

  3. Kim Says:

    October 11th, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I also handed my daughter her F.O. papers early in life, which led to many headstrong “debates” with a confident young woman, but also brought me considerable peace and pride to know she has the ability and fortitude to stand by her convictions and speak up for herself and others at a much younger age than many of us did.

  4. helga Says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 1:51 am

    right on !!!!

  5. Richard Says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Well, excuse me, if you’re all about saying what you mean, why don’t you spell it out. I still don’t know what this F.O. is supposed to stand for.

  6. menopause medication Says:

    March 12th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Awesome post! I’ll definitely be back and bring my friends with me :)

Leave a Reply

Back to Spontaneous Combustion

Joanne's Blog RSS feed

Enter your email address to subscribe to Joanne's Blog Updates:

Delivered by FeedBurner