Being truly herself is the most empowering, enriching and loving experience that a woman can have (we can add “a man” here too). And at the same time, it is something that we need to learn. It may sound strange to think about “learning to be yourself” because one is supposed to be oneself all the time, right? But because we are not fully aware of this, let´s step back and start from the beginning.
Should I learn to be myself? I believe, yes since we don´t live alone in this world. We live in a community with other human beings, we have a dependent existence (we need from others things that we cannot do or get by ourselves alone), and we relate to each other in layers that are, many times, profound and meaningful. We also share this existence with nature, living beings that are non-human and play a fundamental role in this world. Considering these basics, it´s not difficult to accept that the main reason of caution and carefulness on “being myself” is that what I do affect others, what I do has consequences, and can change lives (mine and others’ lives).
In this path of “being yourself” we often face many obstacles and challenges. Our beliefs are tested, our core exposed, we experience vulnerability, ignorance, certainty, doubt, love, fear, criticism, hate etc. On a sociopolitical level, we may be mad at a world that imposes on limits and prohibitions (especially for women); we fight to gain more freedom, we raise signs and share content on social media, we participate in protests and develop initiatives to gain more rights, more space, for women. And while we fight in the outer world, there is another battle that we need to fight in order to gain freedom. The inner battle: the fight for being yourself.
I believe that this freedom, I dare to say “true freedom”, has to be earned, not given. We earn the right to be fully ourselves when we learn to live without hurting others. That´s the condition of our freedom, the responsibility that freedom carries. If “being myself” implies that you hurt others with your short-tempered nature, your reactivity or ego, then you haven´t earned the freedom to be yourself and you are living creating chaos in your life (extreme case of this is ending up in a jail due to untamed violence). And if this is like that, then empowerment has a tight bond with freedom, and it´s an inner job too.
Violence and care are two faces of the same coin. Whenever there is violence, not only peace is needed, but firstly care. We apply care to zones in ourselves that are wild, even chaotic. Care is also a loving form of paying attention, of giving. We do this towards ourselves and we observe how we are, the things that we do without judgement, lovingly, and we educate ourselves by taming those areas that need more work than others (it all comes down to work on our reactivity here…). We learn to pay attention to ourselves by practicing mindfulness, by watching our thoughts and emotions passing by without engaging with them, noticing and recording the experiences we have during meditation in an environment of acceptance, knowing that there is nothing wrong, just things that need to be noticed and later on, changed or tamed, if necessary. This exercise brings self-development in many, many ways.
Women Empowerment and freedom go hand in hand. There is no way in which I can feel empowered if I don´t know that there are options available for me to respond to the world; if I don´t know that by educating myself and bringing out my own wisdom and intuition, I can do better in the same stressful circumstance; if I ignore that I am capable of doing for myself the things that I do for the ones I love (in other words, that I can love myself the same way I love others); if I never realize that by knowing and being responsible for myself, I am being truly free, truly me.
“It´s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet. I am a woman phenomenally.” Maya Angelou
Let the flower bloom!