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From a very young age, I remember being highly aware of EVERYTHING. Including the way people spoke about women. It seems as though everyone has their own idea of what the "perfect" woman consists of. Unfortunately, it was in my nature from day one to try and comply.
Insert here 25 years of confusion, inner conflict, despair, and a rollercoaster of "I can do this" followed by "I just give up, this is impossible."
The messages that I heard, and that I'm sad to say many women around the world hear every day, included, but weren't limited to:
- "Be flawlessly gorgeous and thin, but don't put any effort into your looks."
- "Be flawlessly gorgeous and thin, but be completely unaware of your beauty."
- "Be independent and don't depend on a man for anything, but don't be a 'bitch', have an opinion or make any man look bad."
- "Women are terrible with money and their love for shopping makes them weak and inferior."
- "Women who wear makeup only do so because they're insecure."
- "Women who don't wear makeup aren't pretty and are left unseen in the corner." (So wear makeup, but don't make it noticeable.)
- "It's annoying how girls always eat so daintily and fuss over what they're eating. It's hot when a girl can EAT. But women with curves are disgusting."
- “Women who don’t eat daintily are slobs.”
- "It's so annoying when women try to understand sports, but it's so hot when they do." (Insert any predominantly "male" hobby here.)
- "Be a complete freak in the bed and go to no end to please your man like a porn star, but don't be vulgar or sexy if you want to be respected."
I mean the list goes on and on. I have literally had men get angry with me and throw an entire array of offensive, demeaning vocabulary in my direction when I've decided to say "no" to sex after kissing them or for not wanting to engage in a sexual act that made me uncomfortable.
I spent YEARS of my life hating anything about myself that was feminine, emotional, or perceived in any way as "weak." I harbored a hatred for pink and purple anything, refused to shop for anything, scoffed at the sight of people wearing makeup, and obsessively researched ways to look "beautiful" naturally. How to have perfect skin without a skincare routine, how to have long healthy beautiful hair without expensive trips to the salon, and how to be skinny without putting in the real work of exercise and nutrition. At one point, I even lifted heavy every day so that I could maintain a slender physique and still stuff my face. PRIDED myself on the shock people had at how much I could eat and how heavy I lifted. I would abuse my body, working long, hard days doing physical labor just to prove myself. Learned everything I could about baseball and cars, and so many other things that did not interest me one bit, just so that I could prove to people that I wasn't just "another stupid girl." I allowed men to disrespect me; I lost touch with my girl friends, and ultimately, lost who I was.
I'm 26 now. And recently, I started reevaluating some of these things. After 26 years of learning and trying and striving to be "perfect," I found myself feeling resentful, exhausted, empty, and miserable. Confused as to why I didn't feel truly connected to anyone, frustrated by my knack for "attracting men who needed me to be the man in a relationship," and increasingly convinced that I would never find my passion and purpose in this life, I decided that I needed some change.
The reevaluation process was brutal. But something had to give.
Come to find out, I love getting my nails done. I really enjoy a good workout—MAYBE three days a week. I feel so gorgeous when I put on a "full face" and walk out in my LBD to my boyfriend's jaw on the floor. I cry A LOT. I love to write and enjoy my desk job. PUMPKIN SPICE IS AMAZING AND I'M NOT SORRY. I live in yoga pants, adore my dog, love a good glass of wine, and can't get enough of Ariana Grande's new album.
I also genuinely love football, don't mind getting my hands dirty, and can rock the "sweatpants, hair tie, chillin' with no makeup on" look any. day. of the. week.
And guess what?? I'm still incredibly intelligent, extremely strong, astonishingly funny, and undeniably loving and kind. I am still powerful, capable, whole, and safe.
As I began to discover these truths about myself and the things that I had shut out of my life that would bring me joy and, ultimately, lead me towards purpose, I found myself apologizing. Saying sorry for changing my mind, saying sorry for feeling like a fraud, for loving certain things, for expressing myself.
I'm not sorry anymore.
I'm not going to apologize for being soft.
I won't say sorry for loving myself.
No, there's nothing wrong with the boundaries that I've set for myself.
I won't allow you to make me feel like I need to regret using my voice.
Don't ask me to take back the opinion that you don't like.
I'm not sorry for crying at a movie.
I'm not sorry for believing in vulnerability as a strength.
I'm not sorry for being afraid.
I'm not sorry for loving pink, glitter, giggles, and rosé.
I'm not sorry for getting my nails done, or caring about the planet and the animals.
I am not a bitch for knowing what I want, and setting my standards high.
If I want to wear makeup, I'm going to do it. And I'm not going to believe you anymore when you say it's because I'm insecure.
If it takes me an hour to get ready for a date, and you want to complain rather than appreciate how much effort I put in to presenting my best self for you; You won't see me apologizing.
If I want to rock that sundress and have a photo shoot with my girls because I feel "fly," then I'm going to fucking do it. And ignore you when you call me conceited.
When we're caught up in a moment and I decide to say no, I won't allow you to belittle me for "teasing." I am ALLOWED to change my mind and I will not hesitate to say "no."
Don't expect me to say sorry if I want it missionary, and don't be surprised if I excuse you from my presence if you try to say I'm boring. This moment is about both of us, and I'm not going to reduce myself to doing things that don't feel good or make me feel degraded, simply for your pleasure.
If you don't want to participate then feel free to find YOUR way out the door.
I’m not sorry anymore.
And you shouldn't be either.
I imagine a world where women are strong enough to choose themselves over the noise. To be who they ARE and to stop being sorry for it. Who you are is perfect. It's always good, nay necessary, to grow, push yourself and improve. But don't try so hard to be who everyone else is telling you you should be. <3
We will be there someday. That much I'm sure of. It starts with you, taking the step to say, "this is who I am, and I'm not sorry anymore."
I love you.
Shine on beautiful.
What things are you no longer sorry for? I'd love to hear your experiences.