Twenty five. The woman I am today is not who I imagined I’d become, much to my suprise. I’m struggling to deal with the conflict between who I thought I’d be and who I really am.
Can I please explain, o faceless, disinterested Interweb?
As a child, I was determined to be the opposite of what I perceived girls to be. If girls are weak, then I am going to be strong. If girls are interested in makeup, hair and clothes then I’m interested in art, superheroes, video games and martial arts. If girls are submissive and dependent then I’m going to learn all the skills needed so I can be completely independent when I grow up. Some of this came naturally, but sometimes I intentionally built a persona, rejecting any natural curiosity or interest in stereotypically “girly” things.
As a teenager, I dealt with the pull of my femininity whilst at the same time attempting to reject adulthood, desperately hoping to cling to some vestige of childhood and slow down the growing process. I made out like I wasn’t the least bit concerned about what others thought of my behaviour in public and continued to act the clown to make others laugh. I rolled my eyes in disdain at talks of boyfriends, I was so above flirting and impressing the opposite sex. But in the meantime, I’d daydream about an older version of me getting whisked away by my latest celebrity crush, and be a stuttering, fumbling mess whenever I had to interact with any high school or college-age boys in day to day life.
My late teens were less fraught with contradictions, but that persona was still active. I learned to converse with the opposite sex more comfortably (so long as they weren’t devastatingly handsome) and a little makeup and feminine clothing made its way into my daily routine. Still, I pretended to be totally disinterested in romantic movies, I sniggered at all pampering treatments, and made my hatred of the colour pink public knowledge at every opportunity.
How many of my decisions were my own, innate personality? And how many were informed by societal stereotypes? This isn’t a deep life or death subject, I know, but here I am at twenty five torn between who I think I am and discovering who I truly am.
In an effort to shun society’s expectations of me, have I let them still dictate what I’ve exposed myself to? What I’ve let myself experience?
Here’s the thing, in letting go of my prejudices a bit, I think I’m actually liking myself more, I’m becoming more confident in who I am.
For example, contrary to my old preconception, wearing makeup is not:
- Worn by girly girls just to attract boys
- A way for society to dictate how women should look
- Evidence that a woman is insecure
Those things may play a part for some people’s decisions to wear makeup, and on a day when I’m feeling bad about myself or have a lot of breakouts I will admit that makeup resolves that temporarily. To my suprise, however, makeup:
- Has helped me appreciate my good features every day and even love how I look sometimes.
- Has made me less self-conscious
- Has made me more confident
These findings apply to so many other things: pampering, clothes shopping, getting my hair done and everything else I’d told myself I wouldn’t enjoy and didn’t “need”. All these things are a part of self-care and a way of telling myself I am worth looking after, I deserve to like how I look and who I am, and I can be interested in whatever I want regardless of whether society has historically made it a “girly thing” or a “manly thing”. Refusing to enjoy aspects of my femininity because society expects me to is like cutting off my nose to spite my face.
Since letting myself be in touch with my femininity, I’m more confident as a woman and ever closer to being comfortable in my own skin. I’m telling you this because I want to get it off my chest and hopefully start a conversation. Maybe you understand what I mean, or you might be somebody who is in one of the earlier stages I’ve been in and depriving yourself of experiences, so this could help you.
Is anybody out there who cares enough about this subject to say something? I hope so. But even if not, that’s ok, as much as it’s good to be understood I know I need to be happy to just be me.