This article is at face value, aimed at those in my community who identify as women but in no way is it meant to exclude those who identify as men, or are gender non-binary. The message is the same:
The rules that we grew up with are not serving us.
It’s time for a change.
For much of my life I followed “the rules”. I studied hard and did well in school, pursued a conventional career, got married, bought property. Then I reached my mid thirties and realized that I was depressed. I was going to bed in the afternoons to just “get through it”.
Soon afterwards I began the journey that I now think of as “becoming wild”.
Although so many barriers to “success” for a woman have been removed - constant childbirth, lack of access to education, the need for physical strength, to name a few - the biggest barrier is in our heads. We have seen our mothers and grandmothers “do” womanhood by putting everyone else first, for generation after generation. To step out from behind the idea of “what a woman is” is the most enormous leap.
I had been receiving society’s messages loud and clear. A woman is “meak, mild, the nurturer, the weaker vessel. Our value is in what we give to others."
What began to awaken in me after those months of depression was a new thought, that I hardly dared to think;
“What if it were possible to be front and center in my own life? What would living be like then?”
I was thirty five. I am now fifty. Becoming wild is a process. . .
When coaching found me I was thrilled to discover that we are not our thoughts, beliefs, values or behaviors and that we can change every single one of them if they aren’t serving us. I set about rearranging my model of the world.
What I am coming to understand is that we do not have to settle for a single attitude or thought in our heads if it is not serving us, serving others or serving the world. And what are you left with, when you have routed out the thinking of a generations old social structure that is no longer serving you? Well for me, I am left with “the wild”.
These are some of the questions that I am asking myself and my clients.
You might want to answer them for yourself:
What is your earliest memory of being aware that you were a girl?
What did it teach you about what a girl is?
As a child what did you learn was valuable about being a girl?
From there we begin to draw out a new set of definitions and values:
How would YOU like to define success for yourself?
How would YOU like to define beauty?
What are the values that YOU want to live by?
I am drawing out an archetype - The Wild Woman. There are many versions of this archetype. Here is mine. It's likely that most of you reading this, however you identify in terms of gender, will recognize something of yourselves here. There will be areas that you might like to do some work around too:
She has an independent mind.
She is self-sufficient, a leader.
She works outside of the system and she gathers her fellow wild ones.
She takes up the space she needs in a way that is in balance with her environment.
It isn’t “power over”, it’s “power with” and “power to”.
The space she holds is supportive of herself and others - a space to create new systems and ways of being.
She believes that her life has value and meaning and that how she “does life” matters for everyone else.
She stands in her power so that she can transmit power to everyone else.
We need her - all of us; men, women and those outside of the gender binary. This is my mission. Empower “Wild Women”.
This in no way excludes men or those who identify as men. Men too have been victims of the narrow stereotypes that they have been forced into by our social structure. The questions above around womanhood can equally be applied to what it means to be a man or what we have been taught about gender as a whole and what that means and what is "valuable". Ultimately this is about finding a way to live in the world that is balanced for everyone.
I have a feeling that my journey “into the wild” has just begun . . . Would you like to join me, or are you already there?
In the wind of the night, in the light by the bed
I hear a voice calling me, calling me back
I barely hear it, like my head’s in a bath
I hear a voice calling me, calling me back
I tried to leave her hiding, all strung up
I tried to keep her quiet but she’s screaming inside of
I tried to keep her hiding, all shut up
I tried to keep her quiet
But she’s a wild, wild woman
She’s a wild, wild woman
Lyrics from "Wild Wild Woman"
by Your Smith