I thought the women in my life were strong.
I’ve grown up and I realize they were weak. They were hiding.
The women in my life hid behind their men. They hid behind convention. They hid behind their faith. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong. They hid behind the shear act of existing.
And they taught me to do the same.
I’ve spent years of my life in hiding. Not like witness protection hiding, where you are hiding because you are part of something bigger than yourself, but the kind of hiding where you’re fine never leaving a mark. Never. Leaving. A. Mark.
When I was a little girl, I had a particularly strong affection for Wonder Woman and Princess Leia. These were strong women. But they weren’t real. They were fantasy and not something of this world. As much as I wanted to be Wonder Woman or Princess Leia, I was taught they were nothing more than fodder for dress-up. They were who I could be when I was playing pretend. But for the real world – it was required I be a white-soled sneaker.
On the gym floor of life, I would never leave a mark.
Now, with half of my life behind me, I realize I’ve been wrong.
Wonder Woman and Princess Leia were the physical manifestations of the dreams of the collective girlhood of the 1970s in America.
Who didn’t want to fly an invisible plane? Who didn’t want to be a SPACE PRINCESS? No one. Duh.
But more importantly, who didn’t want to be significant somehow, in something that is right or good, or beautiful?
Girls of the 1970s realized maybe there was more. Maybe we could have actual dreams and not be outcasts for it. (Gasp. I know. Startling, isn’t it.)
It took me awhile, but I’ve finally caught up. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not hoisting a late-unfurling flag of feminism. That’s not who I am. I have a deep affection for many of the things modern feminism doesn’t enjoy, BUT I can be Princess Leia. I can wind my hair in thick buns over each ear and fight a good fight. I can be Wonder Woman, grab my golden lasso and stand up for truth. To emulate my heroes does not mean I’m playing at life. It means I’m living it. Living it with wind in my hair and the sun on my face.
Yes, the women in my life hid behind their men when they should have been standing beside them. They hid behind convention when they should have been re-writing the rules. They hid behind their faith when God never asked them to be less than what He made them to be. They hid behind the fear of all that could go wrong when risk brings reward. They hid behind the shear act of existing without ever living.
I’ve abandoned what I was taught. I’ve written a new story for myself. And I’ve written it with a sharpie marker for everyone to see and no one to erase. I’ve hid from Wonder Woman for far too long.
As for the invisible jet? Wouldn’t that make car pool more fun?