Just the right amount
About a week and a half ago, a friend saw me dancing, and had a thought that she didn’t know at the time I would really need to hear. She didn’t tell me about it just then, but about a week and a half later.
Since I was about 18 — it took me a while — I realized that I wasn’t nearly as girly as most other young women around me. I had been a tree-climbing, kickball-playing, barefoot tomboy as a child, with absolutely no regrets. It didn’t bother my mother, either, at least not that I know about. I went to a small elementary and high school — a VERY small school — and there weren’t enough people to form cliques. Pretty much everyone was friends with everyone, and no one got singled out. I would be teased occasionally for my love of “weird” music, but I think that’s about it. Unless I was clueless to others’ opinions of me, which is a great likelihood.
I think it wasn’t until I got to college and witnessed — from afar, by choice — the sorority rush season at the school I attended, Tulane. And I lived in a dorm with a bunch of young women. And I saw a wider range of girls than I’d ever been a part of, previously. And it dawned on me that I really wasn’t interested in what about 98% of them were interested in, and I started feeling like I had somehow missed the instruction manual on How to Properly be a Girl.
I’m now 38, and I have carried that my whole adulthood.
Yet, I like my interests. I can’t imagine not liking baseball, or hiking (a neighbor gasped recently, “By yourself? Aren’t you scared?” which hadn’t even occurred to me). I think I look better wearing make-up, but most days, I don’t. I feel like a faker/poser when I wear anything fancier than jeans. I wear a dress maybe six times a year. My walk feels clumpy to me — I’m bowlegged, my feet point out, I have thick ankles…
Sometimes my felt lack of femininity — both internally and externally — bothers me, sometimes not.
But, there are definitely times where I feel a disconnect when talking with other women, and that troubles me. I do a lot better now than I used to; I specifically look for things in which I can connect, things in common, and when all else fails, I just keep asking them questions and don’t talk about myself at all. Most women like to talk about themselves. 😉 But, more often than not, I start feeling awkward and too aggressive, and less feminine… or that I’m missing cues she’s sending (because that doesn’t come naturally to me), or something like that.
When thinking about this post, I could come up with about fifty things, right off the top of my head, where I’m really not as girly as most women, or things I like that most women don’t like… Then, I started getting depressed, and decided to stop making that mental list.
So, please imagine my surprise when a lovely lady, my friend Brenda, pulled me aside and quietly told me a few days ago, “I watched you last Sunday in SuperChurch while you came off the stage and danced*.” It was the Cha-Cha Slide, which the kids love to do, and is loads of fun; the teachers will occasionally put the music on when the adult service is running long and they need to kill some time with the kids. She continued, “My thought right then was, as I was watching you dance, ‘She is so feminine.’ And I thought I should share that with you.”
She did this because in a conversation on Facebook, I had made the comment, “I tend not to read books for women because I get discouraged about how… unwomany I am.” A few responded with encouragement, a few with incredulity, a few with, “I feel similarly!” Brenda never commented, but she told me that after she read it, she thought to herself that I’d probably appreciate her sharing her thoughts with me.
Which I did.
Then, she made it even better by saying that she was thinking about how to tell me, and she got the thought, “You have just the right amount of femininity. Just the right amount for yourself, and just the right amount for your daughters.”
Tears welled up.
That was so significant for me.
It sunk in deeply, immediately. I could feel how important this was, and that this was going to be a pivotal moment in my life.
I’ll never forget it.
It made perfect sense. YES, I’m not all crazy-feminine with pink, lacy frills, talking about Coach bags and mani-pedis (I’ve never had either), and neither do I seek out chick flicks — I’ve never seen Titanic or The Notebook — and I don’t think I’ve ever cried at a commercial. I have NEVER watched Lifetime channel. I’m low-maintenance, and I love sports and I don’t run from conflict (even when, perhaps, I should). I don’t like to be the center of attention, and tend to shy from anything flashy or shiny. I generally don’t ever fear for my safety, and I worry that my children will look back and think I wasn’t nurturing enough as a mother. But, God knew what He was doing when He made me, and in His wisdom, He gave me just the right amount of femininity.
Just the right amount.
*I had led worship for the 6-12 year old kids.