Being 'Feminine' is More Than Just Being 'Girly'

feminine copy I have always been boyish.

My mother is not particularly feminine, I grew up with an older brother and spent a lot of time with my Mum's best friend's two sons. I was surrounded by boys, and I absorbed their habits. I played video games and ball sports, and would push tonka trucks around mud piles up there with the boys.

Fast-forward to me as an adult, I'm still a tomboy and a rough-nut. I talk in a straight-up honest way to my friends, who are pretty much ALL MALE. Initially I thought that being masculine just meant that I wasn't "girly" and that I enjoyed doing things that guys did, like drinking beer, rock climbing and road tripping.

When I moved interstate to Queensland (where it's warm) after living in Hobart (where it's freezing) I was excited at the prospect of exploring my femininity by changing my appearance to things that made me feel more feminine - rather than just piling on layers to keep warm. I started by making myself more "girly" because that's what I thought femininity was.

I started to put more effort into my appearance, putting on make-up, wearing clothes that were flattering and choosing skirts and dresses over my standard jeans. I would wear earrings around the house and fancy shoes to the shops. I did actually feel some long lost femininity emerging from within me and I was excited! But before too long, it reached a plateau and I didn't know how to keep the feminine mojo on the increase. Focussing on my external appearance wasn't cutting it.

Then I tried to get a greater sisterhood going with my female friends. I hoped that taking our conversations to a deeper level might unearth the femininity that I was craving. But it didn't. I developed some amazing connections with the women in my life along the way, but I still felt just as masculine as before. I wanted to feel soft and gentle, but I just felt tough and hard.

I didn't know any other way to be.

It wasn't until I took part in Kristin Sweeting Morelli's annual Red Tent Revival that I learnt about the real meaning of femininity and finally understood it for the first time in my life. I learnt that traits I thought were feminine, like being nurturing, giving, headstrong, creative and dominant, were actually classic traits of the masculine.

So what is the feminine then? It's about receiving, stillness, passion and self-nurturing.

This is about way more than men and women, this is about finding a balance between the masculine and feminine energies at play within all of us (regardless of our gender).

I could instantly see that my tomboy nature had turned me into a control freak with a tough exterior, and a chronic urge to put everyone else's needs before my own. I constantly searched for distractions from the present moment because, I didn't know how to enjoy myself unless I was doing something.

I suddenly understood yet another reason why mindfulness had become such a saviour for me. It gave me an experience of present moment indulgence that I didn't otherwise allow myself to have. I had never realised before that I wasn't good at receiving, but I started to notice my struggle more and more once I became aware of it.

I wasn't just bad at receiving, I was a pro at pushing everything away: love, money, help, friendship, support. I had developed habits to shut down offerings from other people before I even had the chance to receive them, and the people in my life were so used to it, that they just stopped offering.

I battled with discomfort as I learnt to open up to receiving, but I knew that it was the only way to unleash my feminine power to its full potential, so I tapped into my well-defined masculine strength to help me to carry on.

For the first time in my life, I experienced a perfect balance within myself. The yin and the yang were operating harmoniously and I understood what had been missing all these years. I didn't need more mascara, I needed to let love in.

Receiving isn't just about taking things and energy from other people (although it can be), it's also about giving to yourself and allowing yourself to honour your own needs. For me that includes movement, great food, meditation, self-care and loving connections with others.

Are you naturally more masculine or more feminine?

How do you honour your own needs?

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Photo by Dia