For those of you who don’t know about my opinions on gender politics, I try never to speak in generalisations. Gender is a complicated thing – so before I start this post I’d like to say that this is very personal to me. I don’t think that all women have these traits nor find them important necessarily – nor do I think that these are special abilities that are exclusive to the female sex.
I do, however, think that there are certain things that have helped me (and continue to help me) towards reaching my dreams. And these things, in essence, feel very feminine. Feeling like a woman is something to embrace. It doesn’t mean you should limit yourself based on the prejudices of others, nor that you should make yourself into a stereotype, but celebrate the things you love about being a woman. These are mine.
Three things I love about being a woman
The single most important life lesson I’ve ever learned has been to always empathise with others. That doesn’t mean that you have to take on the world’s problems, nor that you should be a doormat or put others’ feelings first. Many people make the mistake of thinking that empathy is a kind of weakness. That it softens you too much, that it’s uncomfortable not to be entrenched in one’s views. However, I strongly believe that developing your ability to empathise is the biggest gift you can give yourself. It’s a skill that allows you to let go of anger, see the balance in every situation and gives you a deeper insight into what’s going on around you.
When you are able to empathise, you are able to take things less personally. In a situation where you might have felt wronged or damaged before, empathy allows you to feel into the other person’s process and know that it’s not all about you. Empathising with your partner can end an argument in a moment. It doesn’t mean you’ve given in your own principles, but it helps you to know how to tackle a difficult issue, especially if you have the benefit of understanding your loved one’s feelings.
Empathy makes social situations easier. When you’re very good at picking up on the mood of a room, you have the advantage of knowing how things are going to go down before you say them. We all have that nagging intuition that tells us when others are becoming uncomfortable, disinterested or when a conflict is arising – when we start listening to that it puts us right in our power as a woman.
I think empathy works on two levels – being able to imagine yourself in someone else’s position is the most common understanding of what empathy means – but I think it runs deeper. Being able to feel a change in tone before you hear it, understanding why people have done things you find unacceptable (that doesn’t have to mean you suddenly find these things acceptable), understanding why someone has made the choices they’ve made, and being able to put aside strong emotional reactions to divided opinions and find a middle ground.
Empathy gives us the biggest insight of all into the complexity of human beings. Nothing is black and white, there are no hard and cold facts and the ability to feel for others is one of the quickest and most rewarding ways to learn this.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that men aren’t creative (that would be ridiculous). However, I think personally being a woman has allowed me to more easily express my creativity in an infinite number of ways. There are so many sides of “woman” that allow me to get the creative juices flowing – from building a beautiful home to writing an angry song.
Creativity isn’t just about “making” or “doing”, it’s about thinking. Thoughts are little creations in themselves and the second you find a new way of looking at the world, you’ve created something.
I believe that achieving your dreams in life requires creativity, whether it’s thinking outside the box to get that job you want, or just thinking of a way to make yourself happy every day.
In as much as creativity isn’t about “making” or “doing” I think it’s really helpful to have an outlet. Whether that’s music, art, cooking, writing, coming up with a new business idea, using your creativity in your job, or even making the space around you beautiful, creating something expands your thinking, leaves your special stamp on this earth and gives you something to feel proud of.
And one last note on creativity – you must never let anyone stifle or let others’ judgements put you off expressing who you are through your creativity. Do whatever you want to do for you and not for approval or validation. It’s only yours and it can’t be judged as “good” or “bad”. If it happens to make others happy, that’s a bonus, but never try to be creative just to please other people.
I think tenacity is a hugely feminine quality in essence. We want something, we go after it. We may not always hammer at what we want until it opens up to us, but even if we chip away for 100 years, we’ll find a way to make our dreams happen.
I think that tenacity is guided by our intuition – when we know intuitively that we deserve good things, we don’t give up on them. So if there’s something you really want badly in life, then have the courage to know you deserve it enough to go after it with everything you’ve got.
What I said about creativity applies here – when you want something, never be put off by rejections or others’ criticisms. If you’re not getting anywhere, work harder.
Women have been demonstrating their tenacity throughout history – whether fighting for the vote or fighting for their own dreams. But let me tell you a personal story about tenacity. When I was younger I dreamed of being a singer. I used to tell everyone at school that I was going to be a famous singer one day. I entered just about every talent contest, auditioned for everything going and did about a zillion performing arts classes a week.
I had a natural ear for music, but I was never a hard worker. As a kid, when you’re “just good” it’s easy to skate by, but the older you get, the more selective things become. You have to train your voice like an instrument.
The problem was, I took my voice too personally. It was an expression of who I am and if I wasn’t “naturally” amazing at it or people didn’t compliment me on it, then I couldn’t do it. As the praise started to peter out, so did my interest in singing. I still loved it but what was the use if I wasn’t just “good” at it? It never occurred to me to work at it.
So I took my songs to my bedroom. I played alone and only shared them with people closest to me – and I gave up on my dream.
It was only through very painful processes of growing up and becoming a woman that I realised that others’ reactions was no reason to give up on my dream. OK, so I no longer want to be a famous singer, but why should that mean that I’m not a singer at all? Why should that mean that I should give up on working to be the best I can be at it – because my dream really was only to free my voice so I could sing for myself and be happy.
So I’ve recently started singing lessons again – and training in quite a hardcore way like an athlete – because being a woman means coming back to the things you love and sticking with them even when the going gets tough.
So these three traits are the things I feel best describe my experience of being a woman. But I believe that everyone expresses their femininity in different ways – and I’d love to hear from you! What do you love the most about being a woman? What makes you feel powerful and complete? Leave us some comment love and happy International Women’s Day!