Referring to myself as a ‘Woman’ still stumbles off the tip of my tongue because a large part of me still feels like a ‘girl’. I am a newly twenty-six-year-old woman who often-times cannot decide if she is still the lonely 12-year-old, the shame-filled 14-year-old, the co-dependent 16-year-old, the reckless 18-year-old senior with a broken heart, and a burning desire to feel alive. Maybe college would turn me into the woman I was supposed to become. Was it the athletic scholarship for the Women’s Soccer program I accepted that gave me permission to feel like a ‘Woman’? What about the 20-year-old me who was starving for attention? Both literally, and figuratively speaking. Was I a woman then? Or what about the 21-year-old me who had to learn the hard way that her ‘freedom’ can be taken away with one bad choice. Did jail make me a woman? Was I a woman when I learned how to properly please someone else just because they were ‘nice’ enough to give me any kind of attention? Or what about when I was removed from the Women’s Soccer Program at my University? Was the title then postponed from my being able to claim it? Let’s not forget about the 23-year-old girl who put herself in the hospital. I most certainly was not a woman then, for I was the most scared I had ever been in my life, and there was no one to blame but myself. It was not until a year or so into my recovery that I decided I must face what I spent avoiding for so long; what was keeping me from feeling like a ‘woman’.
At what point, do we decide that we are a woman? Is it when we get our period for the first time? Is it when we are stripped of our innocence regardless of choice or not? Is it when we finally decide to stand up for ourselves? Or is it when we hit a certain age? Tell me, at what point do we decide that we are able to proudly accept the title of being a ‘Woman’? I can pinpoint many moments on my timeline where I have had to be a woman when I was still a girl. I can also point to many moments since being a woman where I have been made to feel like a child. This has led me to wonder if I would always bounce back and forth between the current moment and a triggered memory.
My journey into womanhood has been a rocky one, but I am finally starting to see what the fuss is all about. The older I get, the more I have learned that it has less to do with being a ‘Woman’ and more to do with reminding myself that I am capable of achieving so many things BECAUSE of that. I think for so long I resented the whole idea of being a woman. I grew up being the tomboy who excelled at sports, was not afraid to play with the boys, nor was I afraid to push the envelope in all aspects of my life. Those parts of my personality, genetic makeup, and willingness to live life on the edge… those are still a part of me today. I am finally just learning how to accept all of that, as well as the title of being a ‘Woman’. What I was failing to recognize for so long is that the word ‘Woman’ did not mean just one thing. It meant so many things. It means whatever we choose to define for ourselves. Being a woman should be more about feeling like you belong on a team. Knowing wholeheartedly that we all have something important to bring to the table. (Same goes for men. Please do not think I am leaving you guys out. Keep in mind that I have only lived this life through the eyes of a female, and I am fully aware that males bring a lot of importance to the table I mentioned earlier.)
Now, as a 26-year-old, I am learning how to speak my truth, and tell my story as the woman that I AM. Not the girl that I once allowed so many others to control. It has taken me daily work to get to where I am today, and life will continue to require that of me. To be the woman I want to become I will continue to push myself in a physical sense so I can I test myself in challenging ways. I will choose to show up to therapy because I know what good can come to my life by addressing the bad. I will force myself out of my comfort zone to discover connections that bring me closer to myself. Last but not least, I will accept the title of ‘woman’, not because I am of a certain age, but because I feel as though I am finally at a point in my life where I am proud to call myself that.
My take on being a ‘Woman’ is this: We are no better than anyone else, nor should we be trying to compete with anyone other than ourselves. We demand respect because we are human, not because we are female. Simply because we ALL deserve to receive respect, and we should all be willing to give the same. For me, being a woman means that I am able to stand on my own, and speak up for what I believe to be true. It means that I have a choice in who I allow into my life because I have worked hard to create a sense of peace for myself. Being a woman means that I am, and can be sensitive, emotional, and ‘moody’. It also means that I am, and can be loyal, passionate, and committed.
I am sure there will be a handful of moments ahead that remind me that the little girl inside of me still exists. Instead of resenting her, I now choose to accept her, pay attention to her, and I confront whatever fear I may be trying to fight off on my own. A large part of claiming ownership to the title of ‘Woman’ was admitting to myself that I am also able to ask for help when I need it. That I do not have to do all things in life on my own because there is so much support out there if we are brave enough to ask for it. Being a ‘Woman’ is no longer something I consider to be a weakness; quite the opposite actually. Being a woman has shown me that there is so much beauty to be discovered within that.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate you.