Earlier this week, a girl a few years younger than I approached me with an issue that she had clearly been grappling with for a little while. She asked me “how do I become fulfilled so that I no longer need a guy?”
I immediately felt for her because I remember intimately struggling with that same question for years, especially around that age. And now.
As women, we tend to derive some of our self-worth from two things: beauty and relationships.
We want to be beautiful and desired/needed. The stereotypes of the young girl playing dress up and the beautiful princess waiting to be rescued exist for a reason: those are two things we really, really want.
I’m not saying all women are the same, certainly we all feel and experience things differently. However, our desires for beauty and relationships (whether romantic or not) are pretty universal.
The challenge with this comes when you don’t have the guy, when your girlfriends aren’t enough, when you don’t feel beautiful. What then? We’re told that we don’t ‘need no man,’ and that wanting to be pretty is superficial. So then we tell ourselves we don’t care if the cute guy at work/in class/etc asks us out, or we wear sweatpants everyday to class because it doesn’t matter what we look like anyway.
OR we take it to the other extreme, we seek men’s attention and affection in ways that aren’t healthy or organic, and become perfectionists about what we wear, what we eat and buy our way though Ulta hoping to achieve the perfect physical appearance.
I want to challenge both of these ‘solutions’ with just three words: it doesn’t work.
Shorty say what?
The truth is, women are designed in a way to desire beauty because that is an important role of ours. We have the unique ability to bring beauty into the world. While a guy can be attractive/cute/hot whatevs, they’re not beautiful. We are. We just are. This is a beauty that we are to rightfully fight for and protect. That means bringing both self-care and modesty to the scene. Beauty isn’t just physical either, it’s emotional, spiritual and mental. Which is why it’s so important for us to cultivate our inner beauty by becoming our best selves!
Beauty is not superficial or unimportant: it is inspiring and healing! Think about it, guys do crazy things to get girls (you should listen to ‘There’s a Girl‘ if you don’t believe me). Our beauty captivates them and inspires them to do great things! Remember the stereotypes we talked about before? What about the stereotype of the man at war with a ‘sweetheart’ back home. It’s the thought of her that inspires him to be brave and fight to get home. Or when Harry thinks about Ginny right before he’s supposed to face death. Or when Eugene escapes prison to save Rapunzel (I’m going through a ‘Tangled’ phase). Or when Jack floats next to Rose on the raft…chivalry exists for one reason: we inspire it.
Another way to look at it is this way: when was the last time you were in a beautiful place? Ex the beach, the mountains, a garden…how did you feel? Probably not irritated or bored. When I walk in one of my favorite parks or go to the beach, I feel at peace. I feel inspired and joyful. Humans are wired for beauty and women provide it.
Women are also relational. Which is so beautiful! Imagine for a second women didn’t exist. Men are motivated to provide, their focuses tend to be more related to work or achievement. Yes, they have friends too and yes they often want to meet someone and settle down! But they don’t long for it in the same way. Thank goodness for us because we are at the heart of communities and families. We invite people over, we host parties, we make it a point to talk to the new kid…our focus is our relationships. With friends, with family and with our husbands. Does that mean that you can’t have a successful career or don’t have goals outside your relationships? Absolutely not.
It just means that we will always seek friends, family, loved ones first. Because we are the reminder to the world that that is what matters the most: people.
Going back to the question initially posed to me: how do we fulfill that specific longing we have to be married or in a serious relationship?
You just have to be miserable until Prince Charming comes and rescues you.
Ok jk jk. But really, you don’t ‘fix’ it. You realize that that desire is a beautiful part of who you are. You work toward being the woman you want to be, the woman that attracts the kind of man you want to be with (not chases after him). You realize that you do have other goals and work toward those. You learn to take care of yourself and find community. All of these things won’t make that desire go away. We don’t want it to! We just want to allow ourselves this time to know our joy and fulfillment is not just in a relationship with a man and become aware of how much we have to offer the world! In the meantime, it’s okay to want that. It’s okay to hope for it.
All in good time my friends.