Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, January 22, 1999

Ode to women and
their changing lives

AT Manoa Elementary, my best friend was Freda Ogata. At Stevenson Intermediate and Roosevelt High, it was Debbie Chun. Then I went to UH-Manoa and got a whole bunch of new best friends via the Gamma Chi Sigma sorority.

Today, my gal pals are a feisty bunch of professional women -- all married, all mommies, all striving to keep on top of their respective fields of endeavors. To me, they're gorgeous, inside and out. But, when we get together, there's often some significant sighing over the pains and tribulations of staying steady on a world spinning too fast. At times, the vertigo is unmanageable.

One of my girlfriends is going through an especially distressing divorce. Now, whenever I see her, she seems preoccupied and pensive as she prepares to sell her house, divide the assets and start afresh with her two young kids.

So I was quite moved this week when I got an e-mail chain letter from her, along with the instruction to "send this to five phenomenal women today in celebration of Women's History Month!"

Naturally, since all of the women (and men, of course) who read the Star-Bulletin are, in my opinion, simply phenomenal, I'm sharing this thought-provoking poem with everyone.

It's titled, "Girlfriends," author unknown, and accurately describes the angst of female aging and the various stages of life leading up to maturity and eventual peace:

"You were born a daughter. You looked up to your mother. You looked up to everyone.

"You wanted to be a princess. You wanted to own a horse. You wanted your brother to be a horse.

"You wanted to wear pink. You never wanted to wear pink.

"You were picked last for the team. You were not picked for the team. You were the best on the team. You refused to be on the team.

"You wanted the boys to notice you. You were afraid the boys would notice you.

"You wouldn't wear a bra. You couldn't wait to wear a bra. You couldn't fit into a bra.

"You started to get acne. You started to get breasts. You started to get acne that was bigger than your breasts.

"You didn't like the way you looked. You didn't like the way your parents looked. You didn't want to grow up. You couldn't wait to grow up.

"You went to the prom. You didn't go to the prom. You went to the prom with the wrong guy.

"You wanted to go to college. You didn't want to go to college. You couldn't afford to go to college.

"You fell in love. You fell in love. You REALLY fell in love. You became a steady girlfriend. You became a significant other. You became significant to yourself.

"You became a wife. You became a mom. You became a woman.

"SOONER or later, you start to take yourself seriously: You know when you need a break, you know when you need a rest, you know what to get worked up about, what to get rid of and what's worth allowing to get the best of you.

"And you know when it's time to take care of yourself, for yourself, to do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete.

"Because you know it's never too late to live life, and never too late to change one."

When you think about it, Women's History Month shouldn't be celebrated only in January. Women are still making history every day of the year.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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