By Angela Hoffman, M.Ed., Certified Integral Coach © July 1, 2016
When I was a little girl, I loved wearing pretty dresses with bows. I loved playing house and being mommy to my Chatty Cathy. I loved playing dress-up and looking glam with bubble-gum pink lipstick. As well, I was a clean girl. My mom used to say I could sit down in a pile of dirt and stay clean. (I’m still a clean freak but that’s another blog article.) I loved being a girl, and I still do.
HOWEVER. I also wished I could be like my brother. He was loud, irreverent, and gross, just like most 7-year-old boys. He looked for trouble, and he found it. He got into stuff that was against the rules, got filthy-dirty, and embraced trouble with both grimy hands. He had this attitude of gleeful abandon. At the same time that I felt superior for following the rules while he got timeout, I was totally jealous of his ability to jump into life’s messiness.
As I got older, I realized that I was following some kind of unwritten rule. Girls got to put on makeup and look pretty. Boys got to indulge in questionable behavior and drive cars really fast. At some point, I realized that there were times I was missing out on all the fun. Everything seemed to add up to one giant rule that said Girls are Nice and Boys are Bold. Boys (and men) were applauded for taking risks and doing bold things. Girls were talked about and judged in a negative way. If we acted boldly, we lost our Female status.
Who says? Who made that rule? And more importantly, where’s the fun in that?
If you have had similar experiences, you know how limiting that can be. However, there is good news: Girls – and women – can be both. We can be bold AND feminine.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent two years writing about an all-female special-ops group in the military. Her work is detailed in an extraordinary TED talk. What she found is that these women were warm, feminine, AND totally badass. They loved their families, loved to get manicures, AND were expertly skilled at their jobs while on a dangerous mission. These women were totally, unapologetically, true to themselves. This inspirational TED talk can be found here:
That got me to thinking about ways I could be my true self while also taking action that is bold for me. (Remember that we all have our unique characteristics, and you get to decide what constitutes boldness for you.) Example – I started competing in country dance and began expressing my beliefs. These are both extremely bold actions for me to take.
There is one important distinction to make, and that is this: Boldness is distinct from courage. Courage requires taking action in the face of fear, while boldness means jumping in gleefully, wholeheartedly, and without being worried about the outcome. You give yourself permission to get messy and tear things up. As for the outcome? You don’t care what others think and you don’t care if you succeed or fail, because you are bringing your best self forward in a new way. What matters is that the outcome enriches you, is true for you, and is meaningful for you.
Post-script: my brother is still occasionally irreverent and gross. He’s also compassionate, caring, intelligent, funny, and one of my favorite people in the whole world.
Are you ready to be Bold AND Beautiful? What messy, badass, gleeful actions will you take?
Congratulations on taking this bold new step by embracing your fierceness and your femininity! I would love to hear from you and how things are going. Be on the lookout for more articles in my BOLD series coming soon!