Being a Woman, the Journey

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Kelsey Goldman, Guest Writer

At the ungodly hour of 6:45 am on Monday, April 17th, I sat at my makeup vanity, as I always do, and began to stress as I also always do. This time it was about the topic of a “personal essay” I’d been assigned in English class. It couldn’t possibly be that hard, I thought; what do I know more about than me? But as I pondered a bit more, it hit me that I really didn’t know much about myself at all. Being only 17 years old, I haven’t been able to experience those “coming of age” moments where suddenly I understand exactly who I am and who I want to be as I ride off into the sunset to one of those ’80s songs. At this moment, exiting my trance, I realized it was 10 minutes before I needed to leave my house for school, and I had yet to do my hair and makeup for the day. 

My mom, running past my room, yelled, “Skip the makeup today, Kelsey! You’ll be late!” 

Sighing, I contemplated why the makeup on my face, or lack thereof, was so important to me. What was it about applying that pink blush and that soft, shiny gloss that really made my world “go-’round”? Then it came to me. Femininity.

That is who I am. I am a woman.

This is true in the sense of my gender, how I identify, and my physiology, but it stops there. I am not the type of put-together, mature, glamorous “woman” you may think of when you hear this word: no, definitely not that. Rather, quite the contrary, I am only 17 years young and still discovering the meaning of this word within my life. However, I do have many of what are considered stereotypically feminine interests. I enjoy reading romance novels, I am a fan of fashion and makeup, and I look forward to being a mother one day. How could I, a young, unsure kid, be able to live up to the divine femininity I am supposed to hold?

To figure this out, my Gen Z brain decided the only reasonable solution would be to search on Google “characteristics of a woman.” I guess I hadn’t really thought about what I expected to see, but when I pressed on images and saw the well-manicured Madonna show up, it definitely took me by surprise. How could it be that this fiction-like perfection could be described the same as me? For once, I did not feel like Google was able to help.

When I was little, none of these confusing gender questions and double standards existed for me. And they were certainly still very present, maybe even more so. It was just that I overlooked them, which was a beautiful thing for my young and delicate self. In my bubble, I was not scrutinized for my small stature, small muscles, or overall small appearance. But this is no longer the case and can no longer be ignored.

As women, we face challenges no man will ever endure, such as the act of childbirth. But, I have realized these “challenges” also give us women strength and power in our pain, and the joy and bliss of motherhood, allowing us to call ourselves the truest form of a woman.

I decided to think of all the qualities that have made me a “true” woman. I wasn’t interested in the scientific biology that I shared with 3,904,727,342 other humans in this world. Rather, I was interested in what it was besides the physical makeup that made us all fall under the category of “women.” 

Now, I am thrilled to say it is my empathy, my sensitivity, my gentleness, my affection, and my love that allow me to call myself a woman and say it proudly.