Last year I signed up for an eight-week Strong(wo)man course at the gym, during which I was introduced to many odd objects and ways of moving them.
On one particular day, the athletes were tasked with picking up a sandbag from the ground and carrying it 100 feet, working up to our heaviest possible bag. I really get a kick out of feats like these, and I enjoy learning new ways to challenge my body.
After a few rounds of hoisting these awkward, heavy bags, I made a quip about the destruction of my lovely gel manicure—my nails, while trying to get the sandbag off the ground, were repeatedly scraping against the concrete floor.
It wasn’t a complaint, of course. I don’t complain during workouts, and to be honest, I try to make it a habit not to complain at all; complaining is useless—action is preferable. No, it wasn’t a complaint; it was more of a jocular reference to the fact that while I do like to get sweaty and dirty and chalked up at the gym, I also still care about my manicure.
I care deeply about my manicure, in fact.
A fellow female lifter jokingly replied, “Oh come on, Neg!” alluding to the fact that Strongwoman training leaves no room for manicures.
I responded in turn with, “Hey, I’m allowed.”
Because you know what? I AM ALLOWED.
I’m allowed to like squats and sparkly nail polish
in equal measure.
I’m allowed to get sweaty and dirty while smashing weights, and still truly care about things like lipstick and bronzer and fashion.
I’m allowed to relentlessly pursue strength and simultaneously pursue things that society deems to be in direct opposition of that pursuit.
I’m allowed to be a badass, and a girlie-girl, and a feminist, and a doting wife, and a nurturing mom, and an entrepreneur, and anything I damn well decide to be— all at once, in intervals, and everywhere in between.
I’m allowed to have my own personal definition of “feminine,” my feminine—because the only person who can give me permission to be myself is me.
I’m allowed to be powerful and feminine, because those things are not mutually exclusive.
I’m allowed. And so are you.
You’re allowed to determine what “feminine” means to you, and you’re allowed to identify what makes you feel powerful, what makes you feel most aligned and fully alive. So instead of collapsing silently and peacefully into the mold that someone else has created for us, I suggest we each create our own.
Better yet, why not reject the idea of a mold altogether? Why not give ourselves permission to be whoever the hell we want to be, whenever we choose? To be the people we know we’re truly meant to be, rather than the people we think we’re supposed to be?
No one decides what “feminine” means to you, except for you. No one can give you permission to authentically and unapologetically you except for you—and isn’t that excellent news?
It means that no one else has the power to label you or stuff you into a box that doesn’t define you. It means that you get to decide what you’re qualified to do and say; you get to be as powerful as you want to be; you get to define yourself—you and you alone.
Looking anywhere else but within for the permission to be yourself is not only ineffective, it’s limiting. If we spend our energy and resources seeking external permission, we might never discover the powerful, phenomenal goddesses that we are.
Today I want you to give yourself permission to be an amalgamation of many things—even if society deems those things to be contradictory.
Be an athlete who cares about her manicure. Be a great mother who doesn’t like PTA meetings. Be a feminist who loves gangster rap. Be You in every possible way, despite what society tells you you’re supposed to be.
Show up in all of your self-defined glory and say, “I’m allowed.”
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