How I learnt to be the Woman I am today
International Women’s Day. This day always brings up many different thoughts and feelings for me. To start with, I wish it wasn’t needed! Secondary, the fact that it’s still announced as such is a clear sign that we still need it.
There are many aspects on this theme, and I’m choosing here to share what feels personal for me, knowing that there are millions of more reasons for celebrating and honoring women today.
When I was younger, I was terrified about beautiful and successful women. I can see today how I was blinded by my own perception, prejudice and judgement.
I spent many years comparing myself to others, and I can honestly say that almost any woman would make me feel judged, small, unimportant, unintelligent and less successful. Not to mention all the physical comparisons I did where I saw myself as uglier, fatter, less athletic, just to mention a few. I also linked softness and femininity with weakness and tried the best I could to act the opposite, believing that’s how I need to act to move around in this world. I mean, who’d like to be squeezed to the ground and stamped on while showing softness?
What I didn’t see was that when I compared myself with others, I also defined these women with the ideas I had about what was right and what was wrong in a woman. The judgements I felt others having about me, was in fact the judgements I had not only towards these women, but also towards myself. I believed that looking right, wearing the right clothes, knowing the right people, having the right university degree would take me where I wanted to go. As you can imagine this became a very lonely place to be, because wherever I turned, I saw this as the reality I didn’t fit into.
Many things shifted with my perceptions about myself when I started to investigate “who am I”. With therapy, introspection, meditation and support I started to get to know myself from the inside. Here I found softness, a slower pace and an embodied wisdom that I gradually started to trust. I also found a very strong back that can hold my soft front, and the soft part of me nowadays never get mixed up with ideas like softness equals weakness.
Now I started to look with new eyes on the women around me, and I found that many women felt the same as I used to do, and that they felt they had to put on a mask to succeed.
I remember being on a conference listening to a CEO for a big company, a beautiful, brilliant woman, who before in my life would have scared the shit out of me! Now I was sitting close enough to every now and then be able to have eye contact with her, and I intentionally focused on seeing the beauty, the sharp mind, all the efforts she must have done to get here and her confidence in what she was presenting. I felt admiration and I felt proud being a woman. Afterwards I went up to her and told her how inspiring she was and she suddenly looked shy and said; “You know, every time I go up there I’m terrified! It felt so good to look into your kind eyes, feeling your support”…
Since then, this is my practice. Whenever that little doubt shows up in me, I remember this occasion and tell myself that this woman too, needs support. And it has become my superpower.
More so, today when I look around, I find myself surrounded by brilliant, beautiful, skillful, kind, funny, courageous, strong, vulnerable amazing women of all ages. And noticeable is, when we as women support each other, when we inspire each other’s journeys and growth, I believe we are changing the world to a better place.
Happy International Women’s Day – every woman and every man who knows one 🌷