This article has been floating around recently about why women compete with each other, and why we – women – act like “guy’s girls.” And as much as I want to believe that all these years I was just being true to myself, I know – deep down – that I was not.

My logic growing up was simple: you have to be easy-going/cool/interesting for a man to respect you, and if he respected you than he would like you, and if he liked you, you would find love and be married, all happy ever after. So, it follows that I always wanted to be the cool girl – not the girly girl, not the sweet girl, not even the nice girl. More like the sarcastic, dark-humored reader with lots of opinions.

None of those things were false about me, but they did exclude me from being anything other than this mold, or associating myself with any women other than this mold, because well, they threatened this narrative I constructed. Other women truly became other and I became confined to my own expectations.

And honestly, I’m not quite sure when it changed or how, but it did, over time. I found friendships with women very different than me and friendships with women who challenged me to be my full self. When I first met my friend Hannah, I was so surprised by her: a climber and kayaker, who I could just as easily talk politics with in one second, then discuss fall boot trends the next. She was unashamed about loving girls’ nights and drinking wine. Would I – could I – too allow myself to be all of these things?

I believed for so long that to be respected, you had to be smart, and to be smart you had to be serious. Now I know that I don’t need to make that choice. 

Because here’s the thing: yes, I am married to a wonderful man who loves that fact that we can drink whiskey together, but this is ultimately not about my dating/married life. This is me limiting myself to the world around me, and limiting how others can help me learn, grow, change. I missed out on the fullness of my identity, in exchange for some narrow version of myself.

I’ve missed out on so many relationships in my life, and while I’m grieving my time lost, I’m glad I’m making up for lost time.


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