I'm an independent woman - but I am a woman first. Part of being a woman first is understanding that the rules for man and the rules for woman are not the same - we are different, and we have to play by different rules. (This doesn't have to be gender specific - in relationships, we take on masculine or feminine qualities when with our partner.)
In the world of business, I've struggled with what it means to be a woman - a respected, strong woman who can lead teams, gain the trust of her clients and leadership, and is personable and well-liked. If I play the sweet and nice persona I prefer to play, very often colleagues and clients tend to see me as a doormat - they automatically assume I'm incompetent, soft, and sweet. It often takes an extra amount of energy to undo that kind of impression. If I play the hard-ass bitch card, colleagues and clients see me as high maintenance, difficult to work with, and as a person that's out for herself. If I wear boring pants and a button down all the time, I'm assumed to be cold and stiff. If I wear a pink skirt to work and heels, suddenly I'm super feminine and emotional - or better yet, incompetent. I smile a friendly smile at a male colleague or client, and sometimes, it's mistakenly assumed that I'm coming on to him. After a decade or so of trying to figure it out, I've stopped trying to figure it out. I wear what I want to wear. I act how I want to act. I say what I want to say. I prefer to wear red, black, grey, white, ... purple, green, blue, whatever I want. People will think whatever they want to think anyways.
In the world of relationships, I've also struggled with what it means to be a woman. I can tell you verbatim word for word what one ~boy~ said to me, "Arry, I think you are the sweetest person I know - and I like all of you except the business side of you." WTF? So there I learned lesson #1, some guys don't like a real smart woman - just the idea of one. So many guys will tell you they want a smart woman... yet when they get one, I'm pretty sure at least the ones I've run into, are in over their heads. I've heard guys say that the quality of women suck and that women are all gold diggers and superficial. What I don't get is how the guys that claim to want a good-looking well-kept woman can complain about the high costs of the beauty maintenance. It takes resources to look good! And why don't more guys put in some effort in the grooming and looks department, too? I've heard guys complain that all the women in a particular city are ugly. You know what? It's when guys say things like that, I get really annoyed. All the women in Seattle are ugly? That means the guy that's complaining about all the ugly women in a city is a superficial little boy who's not looking for an intelligent, kind, respectable woman, but a fake plastic soul-less barbie doll. I've learned so much - and I'm still learning ... To be a real woman isn't only about her looks, it's much deeper than that. I definitely haven't really figured it all out - but what I have figured out is that to be a woman is to be strong, smart, sensitive, sensual, ... (I'm out of "S" words...) respectable, respectful, honorable, caring, vulnerable, and real person who takes care of herself (because confidence is a woman's inner goddess) and who chooses her company of friends and her potential man very (~very~) carefully.
**And yes, on second thought and a couple hours of sleep, I've edited this blog post and replaced most of my insensitive use of the word "~boy~" with the word "guy". Sorry if I majorly offended anyone. Didn't like the sound of it myself either.