I am coming to terms with the fact I am no longer a child. This seems like a late revelation to be having as a 21-year-old, but I more so mean I have been defining my lines between being a girl and being a woman.
Girlhood for me is simplicity, trial and error, learning and growth. Girlhood is about self-discovery, finding who you are and telling others about you. My girlhood can be perfectly summarized in one photo — roughly 6-years-old, curly blonde bob cut by my mother, pink dress and blue Crocs, gripping the life out of a massive frog.
This is my favorite photo of my younger self because I think it captures every aspect of who I am. You can see the pride in my eyes after I caught the frog at home, despite being specifically told to let it hop along. My clothing choices are also extremely important, as I grew up loving to wear my “play dresses” with shorts underneath for functionality. After a certain age, they stop making dresses that are as functional as the ones designed for kids, and I wish they would because I say with my full chest that I would never wear pants again if I could still wear functional dresses.
Being a girl set the foundation for who I am now as a woman. I constantly feel like who I am today is just an enlarged projection of who I was in kindergarten. My mom reminded me this past weekend that when I was little and we went to playground I would run up to the other kids saying, “I am here! Come play with me!” In college, I feel like I do the same thing. I go out of my way to talk to new people to “play” with. (If you want to be my friend, join The Slate.)
Womanhood for me is about comradery, self-assurance and grit. There is an underlying bond between myself and other members of my gender that I feel is very special. I am not perfect, and there are people I do not like. However, there are circumstances where I, and I think most women, put aside those feelings to help their sisters. I do not care what vile things I have said in the past or have been said about me, being a woman is going beyond that to help.
That is not to say being a woman is forgiving all wrong doing, but rather being a woman is learning to prioritize the value of others over personal emotions. Assault, abuse and other harms are experiences I wish on no one and I feel it is my duty as a woman to support, value and protect those going through them.
And I do not think this thought process is too far removed from the ideas I had in girlhood. My girlhood self is just the rawest form of who I try to be as a woman — kind, outgoing, excited and adventurous. I was a fiercely loyal friend in elementary school, and still am to this day. I like that my friends’ new partners are a little nervous to meet me because they know I want what is best for my friends, and they might not be the best. I love that I am a little intimidating with my love.
It does take a good amount of looking inside yourself to find who you are and who you want to be. Being comfortable in my womanhood is something I am always working on. College is the perfect time to figure that out. Do not feel rushed to find your conclusions all at once. It takes time, and you need to give yourself the same patience you give others (or more if that is something you struggle with.)
Growing up is about change, but I think you will find that going from child to adult is less hard “changes” and more natural evolutions.