I’ve been faced with ideas of my own place as a woman lately. What should I be doing at this point in my life? How should I behave? Who should I allow into my sphere? Why is it so damn hard to put down my foot and say what I WANT?
One of the most powerful things my mom ever told me was to not be ashamed of my own sensuality… which, if you knew her, you understand came as a TOTAL shock when she said it. Mom was moral and reserved to the point of adorable prudishness. But she said it when I was in a dance class and feeling embarrassed because the piece I was excelling at was the most provocative- and she encouraged me to celebrate the fact that I was doing well and feeling comfortable and confident in my own skin. “It’s okay to embrace healthy sexuality.” It’s even hard for me to write what she said. It feels taboo and personal. A year later, I would play Roxie Hart in the show Chicago- which would take every ounce of my confidence and courage. Turns out ya girl is a little shy?!
But… Being told that such an intimate part of me was not wrong or bad or embarrassing by the most important woman in my life became a pivotal moment. When you are given permission- or given the opportunity to give yourself permission, I should say- to inhabit your own body and your own power and energy fully, you get ownership of it. You get to do what YOU want with it. You get to make those decisions on your own instead of feeling like they are someone else’s. You get to say no or yes with as much force and power as you would like. The ability to make choices creates confidence where it felt there used to be none.
Perhaps that is why someone referencing the typical “timeline” surprised me the other day. I haven’t thought of a timeline or a blueprint for a woman’s life as something that should be standard or adhered to. I’ve been bumping along my path without looking too much at what the people in the lanes next to me are getting up to. I am not them and my path is not theirs.
Maybe that’s because when you experience death up close and personal at the age of 22, your timeline kinda goes right out the window. You skip a whole lifetime of steps, and you progress into knowing that the steps are irrelevant- it is only the journey as a whole that matters.
I’m going to focus on the journey. And I’m choosing to act, or not act, as I see fit, without the input of society or anyone else. This is my life, my body, my plan, my career, my future, my mind, my heart. Even if none of those things are comfortable or certain all of the time. That’s okay. It’s not selfish. I have the opportunity to seize this time of life when my obligations and responsibilities are still slight. So for now, I am going to be responsible to myself, for myself. And I absolutely love it.
So while this message today is maybe not about grief… I still owe it all to my mom. She continues to teach me every day.
*This photo was taken backstage during a production of Chicago- I played Roxie Hart and had never had to be so vulnerable or exposed in front of an audience, but it was the culmination of all I had worked toward in my time at ELON. And I sure am glad Mom gave me the courage to do it.*