Growing up, I thought I had a pretty good picture of womanhood. For the most part, every woman I knew was married, raising children, and worked everyday. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that there are a million profiles of what a woman looks like, and the revealing moments of our lives determine what kind of woman we might be at any given time.
It can sometimes be hard to ascertain the line between what is enough for you and how much of your womanhood should be dedicated to others. I was always 100% sure children would be a part of what defined womanhood for me until the conversation of a hysterectomy or extra pregnancy precautions came up. I certainly have not dismissed the idea of having children, but I realize that it’s not what makes me a woman.
I didn’t think romantic relationships were a fairy tale, but I also didn’t think they could introduce the level of hurt and disappointment I’ve seen. How you might feel about a middle or high school crush is not the same as the time and energy you put into an adult you truly want it to work with. Divorce can be an earth-shattering, life-altering event and what can you do but get over and move on? Our relationships are not what define our womanhood, so what qualities and aspects do make us women?
Still in the early stages of womanhood, I am defined by becoming. I confront the frustration of not knowing by exploring and asking questions as I might have when I was a child. The world seems like a land of opportunity, and I strike a balance between leaning into new experiences and retreating into myself when life gets a little too loud. Equity can be found in sexuality and intelligence, and either is a safe space to be myself. I’m growing into the multitasking version of me that can handle a lot of things on my plate or even more than one plate; it’s perfectly normal to come undone so that every part of me has a chance to conjoin at the crossroads of my life.
I first wondered how all of those women did it because most of us aren’t born with rose-colored glasses or silver spoons. The beauty I’ve found in it is that we all find strength when we have to, love when we need to, and resilience when there’s no other choice. All of this led me to the realization that the things we see don’t necessarily become the story we know, and if you ask any woman, her definition of womanhood will be a personal philosophy informed by authentic experience, not any sort of societal script of general commonalities.