I used to be a really bad woman. This is my confession. I grew up the youngest of three with two older brothers, a neighborhood packed with boys, and all the rambunctious energy of a punky girl following in the footsteps of her idols. I played Capture the Flag with the older kids and was always the practice goalie for my hockey playing neighbor aka, my best friend.
I was a tomboy through and through and I often joke that I didn’t have a female friend until second grade (someone I am still close with to this day) and that that female was at first my enemy as she was stealing the attention of my aforementioned hockey playing neighbor who shouldn’t have wasted his time on a crush and instead spent more time playing hockey with me.
Maybe tomboy is an understatement. As I continued through my childhood, I made friends with girls and occasionally – though sometimes reluctantly – put on a dress. Years of being the “cool girl” who could hang with the guys and wasn’t afraid to fall out of a tree had somehow made me think that my way of being female was the only valid way.
As I continued to age, I scoffed at those who painted their faces with makeup and rolled my eyes at girls who wore tight clothing while I was comfortably loose in my brothers old track hoodie. I looked down upon those who spent hours perfecting their look and couldn’t understand why anyone would rather go shopping than ride bikes.
I had one narrow vision of what a woman could be. And that narrow vision meant that a woman had to be like I was, lest I roll my eyes.
Typing this out now, I can feel how foolish and naïve that mindset was. I had taken my title as the “cool tomboy” and taken it to a level of not relating to my female sisters. And that’s awful.
Today is International Women’s Day and thankfully, I’ve grown up a bit since middle school to realize that there is no one size fits all for women. I’d like to think I’m a good Feminist now.
I spent a lot of time today thinking about the incredible women I know and some of the greatest friends I’ve ever known and the one thing I realized about my friends is that none of them are exactly alike and none of them are just like me.
I thought of the friend who won “best dressed” in our high school senior superlatives. We are so wildly different in fashion and style but she has taught me more about strength and courage than I could ever imagine.
I thought of the friend who practices a different faith than I do. We may believe different things but she has taught me about the importance of leading with your heart and following your own path.
I thought of the friend who thinks in science and lives in the world of STEM. Their lack of interest in classic literature doesn’t deter me from considering them among the most important people I’ve met in my life.
I sat in my room this morning thinking of the beautiful, brave, and powerful women I have known. I thought of my mother and grandmothers and aunts. I thought of my cousins and neighbors and teachers. I thought of my friends and roommates and coworkers and at the end of the day I realized that the thing that makes us the strongest is our differences and the thing that makes us the most resilient is our ability to understand each other despite those differences.
I will never be able to bake like Julianna or paint like Stacey. I will never rock my own unique style like Erica or step out onto a comedy stage like Tiffany. I don’t know how to do makeup like Farrah or put together an outfit like Brooke.
And that’s okay.
Because I’m not Julianna or Stacey or Erica or Tiffany or Farrah or Brooke.
To all my incredible ladies and female identifying friends: thank you for teaching me that there is no one way to be. Thank you for making me understand that, even if we have different hobbies, interests, talents, or opinions, we share one incredible superpower – we are phenomenal women.
Happy International Women's Day.