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The gift we should have rejected

Imagine yourself as a young child being handed a beautifully wrapped gift. Because of the beauty of the wrapping, the allure makes you want the treasure inside. Because you accept that gift, you must unwrap and take all that is inside. You are too young to know this is a trap and the bargain will sacrifice who you are. No one around tells you not to take the gift. The treasure is already deep in your heart, you were born with it. But not one single female around you tells you to reject the gift. No one tells you what this will cost.

It is years later, decades actually, that you realize that accepting this gift damaged and changed so many things. It contained a straight jacket that restricted you. It contained a uniform to make you be like everyone else. It contained a rulebook that was impossible to follow. It contained a mask to hide who you were. It contained a silencer to quiet your inner voice. It contained a map to a destination that you didn’t want to go.

The gift contained lies and myths about being you. It told you things about being a girl and becoming a woman that are not true. The package was not treasure and it damaged the treasure you were born with, the treasure you were to become.

It took me decades to realize all that I had traded that day the gift was handed to me. Decades to discover who I am was exactly who I was supposed to be. Decades to discover that I am an individual first and a woman second. Decades to discover that I get to define what femininity means to me. Decades to realize no one can keep me from being me, but me. Decades to reject the myths and lies and define my truth.

My journey through womanhood has been much like yours. Full of errors, successes and stumbles along the way. Tales of belonging, of rejection of insecurity and brokenness. What I want to share with other women is a path to discover how to give this gift back much sooner in life and discover the treasure in your heart and soul that is yours. The real gift was already deeply embedded inside each of you. To be unwrapped in stages as you grew up and became a woman. Became an adult, a person, an individual.

I want to give you permission to be you. To stand in your gifts and talents without apology. To be the woman you want to be, on your own place in femininity’s spectrum. You don’t have to be soft, though you can be, if and when you choose. You can be strong. You can be outspoken. You can be girly, or you can not be girly. You can be what girly means to you. You can be athletic. You can be smart. You don’t have to hide or be afraid you are too much.

This hiding creates a cycle inside of maybe I’m not enough if I’m too much. I can hear it still whisper in my ear. It’s a song I’ve heard since I was young ever since I took the package. What kind of girl am I, if I don’t want to be a girl that is in the package? What kind of woman am I, if I don’t want to act like the other women around me? Will I find someone to love me if I don’t act like what the package has told me?

Stop listening to that song. Stop accepting these questions that cause doubt. Start to tune into the song and voice of your own heart. Step out of the mold. Shed the uniform, the straight jacket and burn the book of rules and the map. Throw down the mask and speak from your voice. Set your own course.

As you begin to do this, you will attract women who are doing the same. Ask women over 50 what they have learned about being a woman. Being who they are. Ask a woman over 80 the same.

Your treasure is already there. Discover it.

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