Here I am, at the age of 51, finally coming around to a place where I feel I'm finally a woman. I guess some of us are just late bloomers.
First, though, it's important to acknowledge that there are many different definitions of what signifies a woman becoming a woman. When we begin menstruation, we're told "you're a woman now." But none of us really are. When we have sex the first time, some will consider us a woman, but that's not necessarily so. Some might cross the line when they get married or have a baby. I don't know anything about either of those things, but my guess is they're more likely to make you a wife or mother than a woman. People will say "you're not truly grown up until both of your parents die." That turned out to be hogwash. Then there are certain ages at which society deems you most assuredly a woman...21, 30, 35, for example.
None of those things made me FEEL like a woman, though. Many of them were, indeed,
portals into more mature and responsible versions of myself. But what it comes down to is a) how do you define being a woman (or man)? and b) do you feel like you're there?
To me, a woman is self referenced. That means that she doesn't look outside of herself—to lovers or family members or friends—to get her validation. So she doesn't care how it looks to be alone, eccentric, loud, colorful or any other adjective that makes her stick out. She takes full responsibility for her actions. She's not afraid to be brutally honest with herself. She's not afraid to show her soft side or her harder side. She confidently and compassionately walks her own path and stands in her own power. She protects and nurtures (rather than indulges) that which she loves. She moves toward greater mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. And she has her priorities straight. She is Mary Magdalene, Catherine the Great, the Statue of Liberty, Katharine Hepburn and Oprah all rolled up in one.
Throughout my 20s and 30s and much of my 40s, I did not feel like a woman. I still felt girlish in many ways. It felt more like I was young at heart, but in retrospect, I was young in soul, too. I certainly looked like a woman, paid a mortgage like a woman and conducted business like a woman. But I conducted most of my relationships like a young girl. I gave my power to men and others, then lamented the decisions they made in regard to me. I made choices that weren't aligned with my highest and best self. I could sometimes be like a bull in a china shop. I had all the earmarks of a woman, but I didn't feel like one, primarily because I wasn't ready to let go of my youthful demeanor.
But something happened in the past few years and the girlishness is gone. Not in a bad way. I still feel youthful. But the girl is a woman now. It's hard to explain. I don't feel like I've lost a thing, rather I feel like I've blossomed. Gone is the girl's self consciousness...her feelings of powerlessness...her petty ways...her need to fight against, rather than to fight for.
Pagans have this "maiden, mother, crone" thing to show the three phases of womanhood,
attached largely to menstrual cycles. Here I sit on the front stoop of cronehood and I am only now beginning to feel like a woman. It's absolutely not the way I thought it worked, but I can't be the only one feeling this way at such an "advanced age"...haha.
What defines womanhood to you and when did you feel like a woman? How about manhood? What makes us the fully developed example of our species? And for those of you who feel so beyond this, what IS beyond this? What do you have to say about all this?