Defining woman

This is literally my fifth draft I’ve written in the past two weeks. I can’t seem to make up my mind about what to share with you. I wrote about how I really want a Canaan dog, how amazing my three favorite people in this world are, my stubbornness and disposition towards authority, a little bit of poetry, and who knows what else. Now I have a new topic in mind, and hopefully this is the last first draft.

What is a woman?

When I was little, I fashioned this imaginary character of what I thought ‘a woman’ was, because I was told one day I would become one. She walked with her shoulders straight, head high, heels clicking, wearing an expensive dark blazer and matching pencil skirt, and hair swooped into a sleek chignon. She held your gaze with confidence, was ambitious, prompt, intelligent, and a little cold. She got what she wanted when she wanted, and she didn’t have time for anybody else if it wasn’t in the name of progression.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized this character in my mind was fashioned from who I thought my mother was in the workplace. She would go to work, and I would have no idea what she did and how, so I would make up my own scenario and definition. In all honesty, this definition of ‘woman’ that I had created intimidated me. That’s who I’m supposed to become?

So then I picked up a magazine called Darling, and redefined ‘woman’. I designed a new character to fit the role. In this version, she was elegant, well-mannered, intelligent, graceful, and understanding of others. She wore a chic long flowing white dress, long hair slightly windswept, and laughter dancing in her eyes. She was still ambitious, but she knew when to flash it, and when to lie low.

For a few years this image became my new role model to aspire to be like. Elegantly successful, and ultra-feminine. And for a while I was torn between trying to be the tough, invincible, first definition, and the softer, lighter one.

Then I thought about guys, and a whole new dimension needed to be defined. Who was ‘woman’ in relation to ‘man’? What makes a man different from a boy? In the world of sexuality, she oozed self-confidence. She was the dark haired beauty giving him the side look and smile over her shoulder while waiting for the bartender to hand her her cocktail. She was hypnotizing, confident in her body image and sharp wit, and knew just what to say, and when to say it. She had him wrapped around her finger, begging to know her name and who she was. This woman could get any guy she wanted.

This characterization of woman intimidated me in the same way the first one did. I wanted to be her so badly, but didn’t have the guts to even try. I immediately shut out that idea, thinking I would end up making a fool of myself, stumbling and tripping instead of gliding into her stilettos. I’ve been to plenty of bars, and whenever someone tries to approach me or make eye contact, I freak out, and hide in the bathroom.

So now we reach the crescendo: stop fantasizing about this pristine idea that you’re not. You can’t become something that you aren’t, you can only become you. For better or worse, I’d consider myself ‘a woman’ now. I’m emotionally, intellectually, socially, and financially capable. I’ve tested my limits and learned what I can and can’t do, and what I will and won’t do. I’m not professionally affluent like the first woman, because I don’t have the time and experience behind me. I’m not thoughtful and demure in the same way as the second woman. I like to sing loudly and be a little more spontaneous and reckless. And let’s not even talk about the overly-panicked “what do I do now?!” person that I am around guys. I’ve been practicing, but it’s nowhere near as sleek as the third woman, and probably never will be.

If anything, I think I am a mixture of all three women that I have imagined, just not in the way that I would have initially liked. I’ve been in all of the situations these characters have been in, but they didn’t happen the same way it happened in my head. If I take a step back, I see many of the attributes that I had imagined a woman to have, they’re just not expressed how I imagined. I’m not ‘a woman’ so much as I am just Krista, who happens to be a woman.

Before I leave you to your thoughts, I would just like to put a little disclaimer out here: I am fully aware of the dangers of binary thinking, thanks to Marrit. So I’d like to open up the floor to a semi-rhetorical question: how do you define yourself?

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