“Being a woman, to me, means continuing to love yourself no matter what.”
How this post came to be…
On International women’s day last week, Sunday 8th of March, I woke up like any other day.
I scrolled through my Instagram, Twitter and the news, and I read the posts on social media, and there was a variety of them.
Posts by men talking about the great respect they had for the women in their lives, then there were posts by actual women.
There were the self-praising posts shouting out about how great it is to be a woman, the harsh posts that spoke of the struggles of women, and the feminist posts that were less about equality and more about superiority. There were the LGBTQ posts that marked the term ‘women’ as inclusive to everyone that identifies as a woman, and the historical posts that applauded the great steps that Women had made over the decades.
While I read a multitude of these posts, as I tried not to get overloaded with all this information and clashes of opinion that so often happens on the Internet, I came to an internal conclusion. That internal conclusion was that ‘everyone has a different outlook on International Women’s day’, everyone has different experiences with womanhood or femininity.
Being a Woman is an extremely personal affair, and I realised reading all these posts that simply showed me the experiences of others didn’t match my own experience, and it got me thinking, what is my experience as a ‘Women’?
I, personally, hadn’t thought about the question, “What does being a Woman mean to me?” before. When I really started to think about it, I realised so much about myself and the growth that I’ve gone through during these years. It made me decide to write about my own experience, and that’s why I’m publishing this very late international women’s day post.
What being a Woman means to me…
The transition between ‘girlhood’ and ‘womanhood’ for me was very blurred. For some people it can be very blunt, they say it all changes with Puberty, but I don’t think that’s the case.
I believe it’s a lot more mental than that, at one point a maturity sets in, a lifestyle is ingrained into you and your view on the world is focused and you can no longer change those lenses.
I don’t know the exact time or the day, but I know that at a certain point the childish innocence I used to have was gone. The world didn’t look as safe as it used to be, people weren’t as nice as they used to be, and more harsh emotions were erupting out.
I’ve always made a point in life to be an optimistic person, I always tell myself to ‘smile’ once a day.
A habit my Mum ingrained into me was to tell myself “I’m beautiful” when I wake up or look into a mirror. And that would always bring me a burst of energy and enthusiasm that could last a week. It was much easier to be optimistic and to do that ritual when I was younger.
Yet as I grew older there came days when I couldn’t. Perhaps it was the anxiety that came out of nowhere, but it would tell me “You’re not pretty enough”. When I tried to tell myself I was beautiful, there would be this nagging voice in my head, like a chorus, comparing me to others and making me feel like nothing.
Most days I’d ignore that voice, I’d tell it to go to hell, I’d dress however I wanted to dress, I’d be confident and happy. But then out of nowhere, the negativity would hit me like a steel truck. The overthinking, the fear, suddenly I can’t be myself, and I’d need a full day in my room not talking to anyone to recover from this mental shock.
I feel, as a Woman, that there comes a point in your life where you’re suddenly sensitive. Sensitive to the world and what it has to say about you as a person, about your identity.
No matter how much you try not to hear, or pretend you don’t care, there are always these judgments that can get to you. Commenting on your personality, the way you speak, the way you dress, the way your hair looks, your ethnicity. People always have something to comment on. I think my biggest struggle with being a Woman is dealing with the commentary, the idealism of what a woman should be, and these dumb stereotypes that are swung around.
I see myself as an awkward person, a shy person, a hopeless optimist, an occasional cynic. Many times I’ve been called expressive and told I have too much energy, or that I’m gullible, all over the place and really hyper. Most times I just take it as they are, that’s how I come across to some people, and I try not to think about it but then BAM! I’m thinking and I wonder if that’s a negative thing, I wonder if people don’t like me and out of nowhere I’m hating myself. I always feel like I’m never getting the social cues that I’m supposed to be getting. I’m wondering whether I’m attractive and there is this constant internal battle.
Being a Woman for me is being true to yourself no matter what despite dealing with these internal and external criticisms. It’s loving yourself and daring to be loved. It’s being bold, wild, and a bit crazy. It’s not being afraid to admit when it’s all getting a little too much. It’s being okay to take time for yourself.
I’ve improved a lot over the years. I used to be so worried about what people thought about me that I generally couldn’t sleep at night. I’d try to be true to myself and be my own person, but I’d find myself doing things to fit in with others and be in the image that they had for me.
Nowadays I keep to my opinions, I stay firm and true, I try not to let the overthinking consume me, and I’m a lot more confident. I take a lot of time for myself, whether it’s just an hour to sit there and think, a day to go on a walk, travelling, or taking photographs. Building my character and my confidence every day has improved me for the better.
Most days I am fine and life continues grandly, I may have a bad moment or two but they never stop me.
Being a woman, to me, means continuing to love yourself no matter what.