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Jackie Young

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Woman-NESS
by Jackie Young   

Last edited: Saturday, August 03, 2002
Posted: Saturday, August 03, 2002

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Personal journey of a female growing into and embracing her Womanhood.

Memories can be funny things. Sometimes they collide with present memories to weave patches of understanding.

A few months ago, I was in the cafeteria at work. Admonishing myself for buying food I could have eaten at home for free. Other people were doing the same thing in between calling out greetings. One woman stands out in that morning madness: Maudine. She stood out for a couple of reasons. First, she hasn't spoken to me in months, maybe even years. I don't know why - it seems to be one of her personal idiosyncrasies: she takes turns not speaking to people for extended periods of time. Secondly, she stands out because of what she said.

I don't know what led her to make the statement. Even more astonishing was my response to her. And here I am, at least four months later quilted in an "Ah-ha" moment. Maudine was complimenting me on my make-up, my appearance...my flair as she called it. After talking about my lipstick, hairstyle and demeanor, she made a simple statement: "Girl, you look like a WOMAN".

Now, I know you're probably asking yourself a couple of things. One - was she drunk? No (I don't think so). Two - is she gay? No (I don't think so). Three - did I tell her where to go? No. My response just rolled off my tongue. Not snide. Not biting. Not cute or hurt. Just knowing. Knowledge I wasn't even aware that I possessed. Knowledge...but without understanding. Until now.

My response: "I'm finally ready to own it."

Huh? What? Come again? What does that mean?? "I'm finally ready to own it." I never stopped to ask myself what it meant. Somehow, I knew - somewhere deep inside. I knew it well enough to say it, well enough to be comfortable with the statement. To trust its release into the atmosphere.

And here I am, months later, in full possession and awe of the knowledge surrounding that affirmation. it took me going through a lot of personal valleys, facing some truths, doing things differently to get to this point. I had to learn to walk through a lot of pain - not wallow in it. To move beyond the past - not mask it. To share my true self - not shut her away from the world.

When I got tired of putting on the mask, of hiding who I really was, of denying myself, the knowledge came. When I realized that the one person holding me back was me, when I saw that I was relinquishing my power to things or people less deserving of me, the knowledge came. And with it, came understanding.

It wasn't the kind of knowledge that will get you listed with MENSA. Not the kind of knowledge that will earn you a free ride to MIT. Or win you the Nobel Peace Prize. Ah, but you are likely to win a NO BULL PEACE PRIZE: you stop dealing in bull, you win peace...inner peace.

That's what it was. As I began to shed everyone's expectations, I could breathe easier. Once I waded through obligations that left me feeling put upon, I was able to involve myself in things I truly wanted to do, that I truly enjoyed. As I began to spend time with myself, I was able to really discover and redefine who I was. And I was enriched by the experience.

We often get so confused about what makes us women, how we are defined. I mean beyond the obviousness of being adult females. Maybe it would be easier if we spoke of the attributes of a self-actualized woman. One who may not have it all together but can at least acknowledge that fact and challenge herself to be better day by day. For me, it means finally realizing that I don't need to hide my femininity from anyone, that if Sears can show it's softer side, so can I. It means finally being comfortable in the skin I'm in. Being comfortable at whatever size and shape I'm in at the present moment because the present moment is all we have.

It means being comfortable being myself, thinking my own thoughts, making my own decisions. Daring to dream my own dreams - out loud and in living color. It means being selfish with my time, energy and personal space...and not feeling bad about it. Being able to accept people for who they are, not who I think they should be. Being able to see the potential in myself and others and knowing that only that individual has the tools necessary to uncover their own inner treasure.

It means being wise enough to know what people in my life I need to love from a distance. Knowing when enough is truly enough - whether it's toxic relationships, too short skirts, stress or potato chips. It means being strong enough to let others see my weaknesses as long as they are not foolish enough to try to take advantage of them. it means involving myself in the most delicious, empowering love relationship imaginable - with my God and with myself.

I realized that once I was done with all that Woman-MESS -- the drama, the jealousy, pettiness, insecurity, desperation, and comparisons, I was truly ready to own my Woman-NESS. May that Sister roam freely in my soul forever more.

Copyright 2002 J. Young


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