Thursday, July 18, 2013

Learning to be a Girl

Raise your hand if you are a man and you made it past the title of this post!

As a wee girl of 17, I made the trek from Ohio to Utah - defying the tears of the most loving mother for which a girl could ask.  And thus began my journey of being alone.

Alone is a relative term, as I was never truly exactly that amongst my incredible family of friends and adult mentors who would adopt me as their own.  I did, however, in the wake of knowing my nearest family member was 2,000 miles away, develop this uncanny, independent ability to be both my mother and father - diagnosing car difficulties, putting together furniture, making important financial decisions, playing softball and ultimate frisbee when not lifting weights at the gym, all the while maintaining the order of my very own home and baking at least five dozen cookies a week in my vintage-style dresses and cardigans.  You get the picture.

Unfortunately, I also developed an astonishing ability to not ask for help.  I have become so used to everyone being involved in their own busy lives that asking for help has become more of a burden on me than on those I'm asking.  Everyone around me has become so used to me taking care of myself, that they don't even worry I may be struggling.  Which is a good and bad thing. 

The point is, independence is good.  When independence becomes bad is when you can't let go of it.  Society often views too much independence as selfishness, but I don't see that - I see it as survival of the fittest.  We have learned to adapt to our surroundings and do what we can to survive. 

Hence, I've been both the man and lady of the house.  But where does that leave me in two months when I actually have a man of the house?  I've been having all sorts of break-downs discerning where I need to step up and where I need to let go.  For the record, I hate struggle letting go of control of a life only I have been in charge of for the past 16 years.

I also struggle with the definition of feminist in a worldly sense.  If you take it to mean that you believe a woman can do every bit as much as a man, although she has traits uniquely suited to a woman and she can embrace those as well, then, yes, I am a feminist.  Unfortunately, a lot of folks see "feminist" to be gung-ho girl power and down-with-men all in pursuit of "equality."

Through my feminist or not-feminist beliefs that a lady can do anything male or female, I am learning to be a girl.  I am learning the roles that perhaps my man of the house will be better and those at which I will be better, regardless of if those are stereotypical male or female tasks.  My fella actually cooks the most delectable popcorn around.      

Two days ago, I received a phone call from Rob, "You got a pink package in the mail."
Me, "A pink package!  Eeee!  I know what that is!  It's girl stuff!"
Rob, "Girl stuff?"
Me, "Makeup samples and nail polish and the like."

This continued and Rob laughed as he opened the package and my excitement escalated with each item he opened.  When we hung up the phone, I happened to be standing in front of the mirror, and I looked at the reflection in front of me.  I looked at the beaming delicate, feminine face.  I have masked my excitement for being a girl for too long, perhaps afraid that if I let her out too often, I'd lose my ability to also be rationale, level-headed, and genderless. 

The thought hit me, "I'm allowed to be a girl now!  I can embrace girl stuff!"

Sixteen years of conditioning can't just be washed away in a matter of a month or a year or even two...and most of it shouldn't be, but I am learning that it is okay to embrace being a girl.

One pink package at a time.


S.R. Braddy said...

I'd hoped this would be an instruction manual...

Jenny said...

I loved this...but also loved visualizing that giddy squeal as I read. :)

Janell said...

In two months from now you simply start sharing nearly everything :)

Eve said...

Oh my word yes. YES! In our 30s, dating becomes not about finding a nice guy--but finding a guy that will make giving up our independence worth it. I'm scared of that transition. I'm happy to hear someone else is--and that in spite of it--you managed to fall in love! I have hope!

Melissa said...

I have learned that in marriage it is not so much a matter of girl vs. boy chores, jobs, etc, but a matter of who likes/tolerates which jobs more and then does them. I HATE mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, fixing anything and Brandon doesn't mind, but he HATES cooking, buying clothes and food for the family,laundry, mopping, etc and I don't mind or I like it, so we have split our responsibilities that way. Which has really worked for us because we both have strong opinions on how things should be done in "our domains". We get along famously when we let each other do his/her own thing on specific things that really matter how we want them done and then on others, we can really work together and get things done together. And then yes, there are some things that are very gender specific that we both have to tolerate/laugh about.

Shayla said...