In the movie Secondhand Lions, the three main characters often allude to Hub McCann’s “What every boy should know about being a man” speech. Though we only hear a snippet of it, the idea of becoming an adult still ties into the coming-of-age story unfolding for our young main character, Walter. But this got me thinking: if there are things a boy needs to know before growing into a man, does the same hold true for girls becoming women? What does it mean to be a woman, emotionally and mentally? So, being at the wise age of twenty-six, I put my thoughts on womanhood together and came up with a three-part speech. Maybe I’ll add to it as I get older, maybe it won’t change, or maybe I’ll downsize it. And if you have any thoughts you’d like to add (again, taking anatomy and biology out of the equation), feel free to comment down below. For now, here is what I’d tell girls about being women.
1: Take Care of Yourself Too
You’ll hear a lot about caring for others, as well as various “_____ lives matter” slogans. It’s such a strong topic that it even has various extremists. On the one hand, you might hear the “every man for himself” extremists who believe that the people around you are only out there to take what they can, so you should treasure what you have and guard it with your life. It’s a lonely viewpoint that nearly led Ebenezer Scrooge to his demise in Christmas Carol. But on the other hand, there might be other extremists who expect you to give everything you have even if you have nothing. It was a mindset Fantine applied in Les Miserables, and it was only by miracle that she wasn’t alone when she died.
The best compromise to these two extremes is this: take care of everyone, including yourself.
Your parents might’ve taught you it’s good to care for others, and that’s true. If you see someone hungry, give them something to eat. If they’re thirsty, give them something to drink. If they’re sad, sit with them. If they’re sick, tend to them. Do what you can to bring comfort and joy to others. But there may be times when you yourself are hungry or thirsty or sad or sick, and you might not have the strength to continue. There’s no shame in indulging every once in a while. Don’t let anyone belittle you for taking a break. Take care of yourself so that you can care for others. Never forget that your life matters too.
2: The Opinions of People You Trust Matter More Than Those You Don’t
Constructive criticism is how we thrive in every aspect of life. But everyone around you will be eager to give it, even if they’re complete strangers to you. This is one of the many reasons you keep your loved ones close. Those who truly know and love you the most will have your best interests at heart. They want to see you grow and discover all that you can be. They want you to have the best life can give you and explore all there is to see.
Exercise caution around those whom you don’t trust. They might have good intentions, but their goal is to mold you into their version of a perfect human being. They won’t have your hopes, dreams, or experiences in mind. They won’t care about your potential. They won’t wait to meet the woman you can be. All they know is that they’re not perfect, and they want to ignore it by focusing on making someone else perfect. So trust the people you know, love, and look up to.
3: There’s a Time to Compromise and a Time to Say No
You’ll be asked to do things you might not want to do. In some cases, it’s best to simply do what they ask. If they ask you to work on Saturday, do it. If they ask you to walk a mile with them, do it. If they ask you to bake a cake for them, bake an extra for good measure.
But in other cases, they might tempt you to go against your morals. They’ll try to convince you that hurting others is for the greater good. They’ll tell you your body is theirs to command and not yours. They’ll ask you to believe that something wrong is something right.
In these cases, don’t do a damn thing.
Stand your ground. Harness that anger into a shield to protect the people and values being threatened. Look them in the eye and say no.