I never really understood loss before. The concept of it often blew over my head with the seasons as I tried to console those around me without ever really feeling substance to the reality of it. This all changed for me in a matter of seconds when I received an urgent emergency call on my mother’s behalf. Up all night waiting, crying, and waiting some more. It was too late. She had been declared brain dead and there wasn’t anything I could do.
Just like that, Life slammed on it’s breaks.
This process has been scary, difficult to understand and forced me to mature much faster than I ever thought I’d need to. But the one consistent role that hasn’t failed to catch my tears as they fell was the love and support of the people I still had left.
A daughter sometimes just needs her mom, but aside from the many monumental things she has taught me, I’m lucky enough to also be surrounded by irreplaceable men in my life as well who have taught me a great deal about what it’s like to truly be a woman, and one that my mother would be proud of.
The first, and likely most influential man is one that I’ve had the pleasure of calling my dad. He has taught me so much about how to be a confident, fearless, and goal-oriented woman. This man would try his very best to master a ballet bun that took over 300 bobby pins to complete. He would sit in the waiting room with all the other dance moms and wait for his 14-year-old ballerina to come out of the dressing room in a pink tutu. He always stood by me through the many hobbies I experimented with.
it was him who became flexible to my ever-changing life.
There was never a sense of limitation to what I could do, and there was never a hesitation for him jumping into things right alongside me. He supported decision after decision in my life that I changed my mind about. Because as he knows, I always changed my mind. He taught me that being a woman didn’t mean taking one clear path to my destiny, but instead ruthlessly paving my own path through everything the world had to offer.
Then there was my brothers. I grew up learning about my place in the big scary world as someone who had the opportunity to truly make a difference because of these two. Artistic and adventurous souls who have never let societal conventions take over their lives; there’s no better way to describe them. They see clearly and honestly the potential the world has to be a better, more loving place. I am the woman I am, because my brothers taught me that it’s okay to live life by your own rules and to watch jaws drop while you do it. It is because of them that I learned likely the most important lesson I ever will:
Success and happiness don’t come in the form of a 4-year degree or a stack of twenty-dollar bills in my wallet.
The next man I must pay tribute to is one of my very best friends, Connor. He’s someone who unknowingly teaches me every day that boys truly don’t have to be the macho f*ck boys you read about online. His charming toss of a simple catch phrase “every girl’s a 10, you just have to figure out why” actually digs much deeper than the Instagram bio I’m sure it was intended for. He’s the kind of man that treats women with respect and sees more than just a nice face/body. I’ve learned to set every sight for what I deserved off of our laugh-til-we-cry motto and irreplaceable friendship over the years. I am the woman I am because I know that I don’t need makeup, fancy outfits, or a straight A average to feel loved and deserving.
This lad indeed is the person to first introduce me to my boyfriend Cory. Cory is someone who every day empowers me to have a choice, and holds values that make me feel balanced in our relationship. He’s the kind of gentleman that listens, and I mean actually listens to me rant, and trusts my opinion with his own hardships too. He teaches me that it’s okay to say no, to go au natural, or to split the dinner bill at a fancy restaurant. He’s someone who can positively influence my drive to completing goals I’ve set, and who motivates me to be a great version of myself, simply by being a great version of himself. I am the woman I am because I am able to feel equal in my relationship, loved without restraints, and feel happy being myself.
All of these men have taught me an incredible amount about how I should be treated in the world. Being a woman isn’t about finding your place among the aisles of Cosmopolitan magazine framing the check-out of a cosmetic store, but instead being someone that is fearless, happy, and kind. And maybe, after all, these things are more than what it means to be a woman. Maybe, these things are what it means to be human. I am human and I am me, because of the many people who have touched my life and shown me my potential.
Featured Image via Boathouse.