How was it for you growing up as a woman?
Who even asks that question ?!
I certainly had not been until recently, where I was actually asked twice in the month.
Don’t get me wrong… I have heard many people talk about what it means to be a woman, including everything it means to be an ‘empowered‘ woman in the world today… Yet most of this comes from the media in some shape or form. So to stop and truly connect to this question and ALL it was asking of me was quite an epic moment that really got me reflecting on my entire life. From here stemmed quite the unravelment as my relationship with the word woman alone, was a word I used to totally cringe at and actually avoid using altogether.
Why did I used to cringe at the word woman and not stop to ask why? Is that not a little strange? Or are there other women out there who felt or still hold similar feelings around the word woman and all it embodies and can conjure up?
It’s like the word woman alone feels so full bodied, so womanly, so big, powerful and worldly… I know that is not how I felt in myself growing up. If anything I was annoyed I wasn’t born a boy.
And then just as I was beginning to consider what it meant for me growing up as a woman I was asked the following question:
What images did you hold of what a woman was, when you were growing up?
Do you mean the images of women I saw in magazines and on TV? The ones I looked up to and aspired to be like?
Gosh. Images… There must have been so many, only the main one that came to me initially was my mum. I was never a kid nor a teenager who really looked up to other women… So I thought. I was more into my footy and basketball trading for cards, while other girls looked at Dolly and Cleo magazines. So as I was asked these questions I literally thought for a moment I had not really been all to influenced neither positively nor negatively by all of the thousands of images we receive as girls/women, boys/men telling us what to wear, how to talk, walk, sex, act, perform, look, dress, exercise, shape our bodies, pose, play, move, work, care, and love or not love like…
I got through the whole imposed image bombardment thing pretty unscathed.
Wow, was this a spin out or what, to fully realise this was so not the case.
Through my perceptions I saw what a woman was supposed to be, do, say, act and move like through my mum. Yet as I dug a little deeper I unravelled a life of choices that was far more influenced by the outside world than I had ever cared to connect to and feel the full extent of. Hence why I am writing this down, because I wonder how many women around the world have been influenced in various ways just like me, without fully realising it, nor making the connection that ALL these influences actually change the course of our lives in various measures, as it did mine significantly.
During my younger years growing up my mum was a woman who could and did do everything… all of the time. My mum really was super woman in her skills and abilities both professionally and domestically as she could work on a billion things at once and get stuff done. Weather it be working full time, doing the cleaning, cooking, studying, being a ‘good wife,’ running errands, driving my sister and I to basketball all over the state, being there for her friends at any given moment, glamming herself up when needed, able to fit the picture of what ever situation she was in… Oh mum even painted our whole house on her own inside and out roofs and all on more than one occasion.
There was a while there, growing up that I thought being a million miles an hour doing, doing, doing everything all of the time was the life of a woman, (yet at the same time I didn’t.) When I tried to be like others it was unsustainable and when I tried to keep up with my mum I simply couldn’t. It would result in me being hard on myself, amplifying a state of self loathing and thinking there was something wrong with me.
In reflection, I actually can see that I chose to reject myself as a woman from an early age. Given that I couldn’t keep up with my mum and her tornado ways I kinda threw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak, as I never stopped to ask myself:
How do I feel to be?
I used outer influences and apparent role models to determine and direct how I expressed myself including the pace and way in which I moved. When I realised I didn’t like or fit any other mould no matter how similar to me, I chose to hide myself in baggy clothes for many years and become a tomboy.
I can now recognise my shutting down to the fact I was a woman was detrimental to me, my body and to how I felt, not to mention the quality of my relationships. It was a whopping reaction (despite thinking I hid it well) to the way I superficially experienced and even judged women including myself.
For example I didn’t like how busy so many women were, busy in that rushy, stressy overwhelmed way. I didn’t like how so many women I knew and even watched on TV and saw in the movies complained about their partners and husbands, (it simply didn’t feel loving and how I felt relationships could be.) I didn’t like how bitchy women could be, all of the drama, gossip and backstabbing seemed so unnecessary. I didn’t like how much girls and women went into comparison. (It totally kills all appreciation of our selves and each other and constantly leaves us feeling never enough.) The same goes for perfectionism. I didn’t like how girls talked about boys all the time (It’s like without a boyfriend or date there was something wrong with you.) I didn’t like how girls and women would use make-up and clothes (if any) to manipulate / hook people into liking them. I didn’t like all the fakeness that came with that. I didn’t like how women allowed themselves to be treated, objectified, even abused both verbally and physically…
In saying that… I equally partook in these conversations, these actions and comparisons in various ways… If not through my own personal experiences it was through my observations where I often sat back and said nothing despite things really not feeling ok time after time. I watched myself and others morph into a million people in one, based on what was trending, what was cool, what the latest was, what you thought you had to do even if it was at the expense of yourself and self abusive.
Even writing this I am still asking… why?
Why do we so often override how we truly feel at the expense of ourselves?
What is the cost of treating ourselves and others like this? Like really? Not just of ourselves but as a collective global society?
And I say and ask this now, without judgement of people / women. I say this from a developed understanding of how we often chameleon, compromise, calibrate, compare, cower , contract ourselves into all of these images and behaviours we may perceive and believe are necessary to have us ‘fit in.’
To fit into the box of what it means to be a woman in the world today.
Who even created the box?
How does it still exist today? Which it undoubtedly does. I’m a primary school teacher and work with teenagers and I can see the pressures and expectations young people facing across the board are actually intensifying. The impact of these is beyond concerning.
It has become so clear that in hiding my true self I am simply projecting more images communicating to others you can’t be your true self. Weather I like it or not everyone I meet receives this message including my students. Talk about responsibility.
It’s like… If I’m not being true to myself who am I being ?
What a question!
I know this is why I became a tomboy for many years. It seemed life was more simple playing sports and hanging out with boys. It’s obvious to me now, that in acting like a boy I could attempt to avoid the many pressures and expectations girls and women experience. It took me until my late 20’s to understand oversized clothes and competitive sports wasn’t the solution either.
When I reflect back… not too far. I can see I have kind of chameleoned myself into so many different images (and I’m only 34.) There has been the sporty basketball, cricket, footy chic, the too cool for school skater girl, the underage dance clubber trying to look way older than I was look, grungy teenager, the bit preppy 20 something with my bow ties, a bit hip hop with my baggy clothes and high top sneakers, a bit don’t know how to dress because I am hiding my sexuality.
There was a while there, I didn’t know if I wanted to wear baggy jeans with my baseball cap side wards or a skirt and heels. I was all over the shop. And this confusion progressively led me to hit a real low point for about six months at age 26. It was a point in my life I had listened to so many other people and been influenced by so many ideals and beliefs, I didn’t know who I was, what I believed nor what I was doing… (Yet deep down I did. ) I was like a zombie version of myself. So much energy went into the outside image and the expense of my body and inner feelings, which were obviously suffering. It took me to feel empty, unfulfilled, depressed and even blind in one eye before I stopped and ask myself what I wanted for my life?
I had quite literally ignored myself for many years. It is interesting how we are even capable of choosing this.
It was not long after I met Natalie Benhayon. A woman who literally supported me to change my life in every area. A woman who supported me to re-connect to my body and everything that was already within. A woman who reflected to me what a true woman is. A woman who supported me to be me and know how to live me in the world. A woman who truly empowered me. A woman who had me look no further, seek no more solutions, only seek true answers, and to know and understand that our own well-being comes from within. A truly inspiring woman who fully lives ALL that she supports others to sustainably, vitally, joyfully, confidently, awesomely live.
Natalie Benhayon de-defines what being a woman in the world today.
Images, expectations, pressures, ideals and beliefs free.
Through the reflection of Natalie’s living way you cannot but be sparked up and blown away (or simply inspired 🙂 by her confidence, her beauty, her power, her unwavering connection and expression to all that she holds true, her ease in being, her true sexiness and equally delicate, graceful , sacred self. So wise, so amazing, so stylish, playful and awesome all the while going :
What makes me different to you?
Nothing … Besides possibly our choices.
Natalie Benhayon makes it so crystal clear that it’s our choices, it’s our personal rhythms and cycles, it’s our consistent commitment to honouring ourselves, it is living responsibly and truly honestly, it is about being real… that is so essential. Like really. If we are to live a loving, joyful, truthful, fulfilling life we truly enjoy. One where we know, value and deeply appreciate ourselves first for the qualities we bring before all that we do. Then our everyday self-loving choices are absolutely key and the very foundation we need for our vital state of health and well-being.
With our world today being in a grave state of illness and disease. Where 80% of illness and disease is contributed to by our lifestyle choices … It is worth asking:
Why wait for mental health issues including depression (as I did) to stop and re- assess how we are living?
Why wait for a cataract in your eye (as happened to me) to stop and ask why this unusually occurred for me at such a young age?
Why wait for my period to completely stop for a whole year to realise something is not right in the way I am living or not living as a woman?
Why wait for asthma in your 40’s , a never ending wheeze and cough, and having to have a full hysterectomy in your 50’s (like my mum did) to stop and re-assess if the momentum you were running with through life was supportive of ones body. It’s true mum could do anything if she put our mind to it, yet is this what the body was asking for?
I can say this now about mum, (with her permission… hi mum 🙂 because we have both done a 360. We have both been beyond inspired by Natalie Benhayon whom I may add is 26, I’m 34 and my my is 64. So amazing to see we can make simple changes to our life at any age and completely transform our relationship with ourselves, our body and one another.
It’s really is never too late to make true change.
So…Why wait for illness or even feeling flat to stop, connect, feel and truly listen to ourselves ???
What are we waiting for?
And opportunity to meet the woman who inspired me to truly understand what lifestyle choices were and were not supporting me, the woman who knocked giving my power away to all of the information we are loaded with telling us how to eat, sleep, exercise, work, be in relationships…the woman who put the ball lovingly back in my court and taught me how to care and love my self, the woman who introduced being truly honest with myself and others, the woman who blew it all out of the water in a good way…
Oh and the woman who empowered me to claim my self as a woman. And a mighty beautiful one at that… Gosh how far have I come to even say that 🙂