A lot of challenges lay ahead. We all know that as a community, but they really come to light on days like today: International Women’s Day. Many of us realize the world needs us to ‘be the change’, but sometimes it’s damn hard to fully embrace the complexity of it all—unshackled by the conditioning that makes change so necessary.
Gender norms seem to be the most prevalent boundary we’re all trying to breakthrough, and although the discussion around sexism usually illustrates how it targets women, the oppressive expectations of gendered identities affect everyone. Breaking the boundaries of what’s expected of us is equally hard for Everyone. We all have some kind of inkling of what we have to do. The flashes of insight come to us and we recognize it—it’s kind of like those rare sunny days in the rainy Pacific Northwest where everyone gets so pumped, the possibilities seem endless and the world seems to be a magnanimously good place; you can hardly find a person without a smile, everyone wants to work together, because we’re all just loving that sunshine up. But when we feel super limitless—our revelation like a shining sun—and we forget that the sun sets, accidents happen, and it’s a slow process to absorb, ground & photosynthesize the sun’s rays into ourselves… people actually drive a bit crazy on the roads. We can lose the plot. Seeing, experiencing even understanding, is not nearly enough. The sun calls us out to grow. And no matter how beautiful the revelation we’ve seen, it’s still a challenge that will call us out every moment of everyday testing us to grow bigger, better, stronger, now. It’s calling us out to let the sun in everyday, to be just as helpful on the stormy days and drive your life like you mean to really live.
I mean to live. And today I mean to embrace the strength of vulnerability and to celebrate the strength of the feminine in all us, all well as shed light on our imperfections, and be totally, ironically ok with it.
I hate that I still do these 10 stormy things even though I have seen the sun: Women’s Day Edition.
1. I don’t always reach out when I need someone.
It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable. Men have never been allowed this luxury, and women are praised for their new-independence these days. Men have been customarily been taught they’re an island, & now women are being told they have been granted the luxury of being the same. No one is an island. It’s a challenge for too many of us to say “I need help”. Luckily some of the hills I’ve had to climb have been way too steep to surmount without the ropes of fellow climbers. Being overwhelmed can be a good thing. I was raised super-independently, I’m still growing into surrender. Which is very good! Because not only can we be strong, independent & capable people while still needing help, I don’t think I’ll ever be a strong, independent, capable anything without the hands of my community holding me.
2. I hold back affection because I’m afraid of being judged.
This transmutes in my mind as a fear of making things awkward. Wow, am I ever afraid of that. I am an awkward-maker of sorts. A first-date asked me to play 21 questions one time, he opened with something like “what’s your favourite food” and I wanted ot know “what’s your deepest fear?” Awkward. Guys are taught to hold back emotions; we’re all told to hold back our faults. When I was a kid, I could turn over rocks at the beach all day. I like to see what’s underneath. I can sense what’s going on below and addressing it is sometimes all I really care about. Many people aren’t so comfortable having their stones touched let alone unturned. But I feel like I’ve missed many opportunities to make a beautiful connection by being afraid someone would think I’m weird for sensing an all-pervasive fear penetrates their lives, or that they need a hug. So naturally, I second guess my gut sometimes when it says “grab that person and bear-hug ’em, write that person & tell them how much they mean to you, buy her flowers, ask that person at the other table if they’re ok; tell them they’re beautiful”. I’m getting way sassier lately, and when there’s an emergency I don’t care what people think, but I wish that I could be more open and confident enough to feel that helping, digging just below the surface, is more important than the threat of awkwardness. We all need boundaries, yes, but I’d like mine to not be walls.
3. I stifle my own light to make others more comfortable.
I’m not sure if men face this challenge as much as women. I’m sure they do. I’m just not sure it’s as much of a hurdle. But women are definitely socialized to be well-liked. Everything about us is supposed to be inviting—soft skin, hair, polished, painted, smooth, fresh—and non-threatening—kind, gentle, accepting, supportive, nurturing, understanding. Nothing in this list, nothing in the gender-normative female behaviour pattern enlists any attributes that pertain to leadership in any way. I’m sure men feel social pressure not to stick out, but women are raised to think there’s something wrong with them if they do. It’s becoming more and more intuitive to allow myself to be unapologetically authentic as I really begin to internalize the Marianne Williamson quote, made famous by Nelson Mandela, about letting our own authenticity shine through as a means of comforting others into doing the same. However, I’m still learning that it really doesn’t serve anyone to shrink myself.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?… It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
4. I make it hard for people to change my mind.
This is probably more of a masculine trait, but we’re all both sides of the coin. It seems so rational to accept that the world is a constant exploration where discovery is an everyday occurrence. We’re always learning. Not only are we on an adventure, and observing brand new phenomena on the regular, every person we meet is a treasure trove of potential learning. Bill Nye said everyone we meet knows something we don’t. And he knows a lot. I’m not sure why, then, I can sometimes be so closed to letting someone, maybe, talk me out of an idea. When I become cognizant of it, like the other day I was getting all in a tizzy about witnessing intense, and speedy, climate change when I decided to let my the person I was speaking with ‘in’, it’s so simple to reroute. They connected to where my mind was being a bit broody and pulled me up above water in an instant. When I choose connection over conclusion, it feels like the difference between sinking like a stone and floating with my hombre, hand in hand, chilling like a platypus (or sea otter). We need new and constant discovery to address the challenges we face now. And to do that, we need to keep in contact with one another, while we swim around the river, relaying what we see from our vantage point, so we learn all about our surroundings as we drift. Connecting makes us far less likely to lose each other or sink.
5. I expect tomorrow will solve issues today; I think yesterday is some kind of projection of tomorrow.
Looking ahead to the future as some saviour shows up in our minds in the form of “when this happens, when I achieve that” all-will-be-well-at-that-time thinking. I can’t even count the moments I’ve wasted thinking about the lovely future when I could have been embracing and grounding it in my moment. It sort of disappoints me but, what the hell, all we have is right now and I can’t cry over burnt bread: we only ever act in right now. Thinking that my past lack of presence is somehow bad can only happen when I think of it as some sort of projection into the future. Like something I did 5 minutes ago dictates what I’ll do with the next 5 minutes. The only thing we have no control over is the fact that things will change. That’s a guarantee. We have no say in the change if we wait for tomorrow to change today for us. People with the most horrendous childhoods have and do end up in the highest reaches of success, completely owning and transmuting the very afflictions they were programmed with as children. We are alchemists; the present moment is our philosopher’s stone. We can change anything by applying that presence; it’s magic.
Ok, that’s half my list. I didn’t realize how long it would be until I completed it! Let me know if you can relate! Days like today should be about owning ourselves. Men, women, gender non-binary’s, everyone. Even though we cannot say what will happen in the future, we can take the opportunity to be engaged in creating it in our present. Sign up on the home page to be notified of the follow-up part 2 being posted on the weekend! And in the meantime, take care :), and happy International Women’s Day!