The True Meaning of Freedom (and how it can help us embrace more of ourselves)
It’s almost been a year since my last post as I went on maternity last August and a few weeks later our baby daughter was born. Since then it’s been a whirlwind.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to step into parenthood. For one thing where does it begin? When you decide you’re ready (if that indeed happens), when you conceive, when you give birth? The reality is a bit more like a waterfall. There is no beginning or end, just an inevitable flow through waves of emotion. From the sparks of excitement to the pangs of anxiety and all the way through to the incredible gust of unending love for this tiny creature who you can barely believe exists.
It’s one of the steepest learning journeys of our lives. A leap into the unknown. People talk about the sleepless nights and advise to do classes on all the practical things but nothing can prepare you for how it changes you as a person. Parenthood is a mirror that enhances all your radiance and all your cracks. I have experienced boundless joy as well as earth shaking overwhelm. Some days it fills you up and some days it empties you entirely yet there’s no way of telling which will be which.
My own journey has been centred around coming to terms with my definition of freedom. As a coach I look closely at what values are driving people and one of my priorities has been freedom. My love of travel, my need to work freelance and my fierce independence are all indicators of this and having a child seemed to me to be in direct conflict with it. It’s a worry I see often with my clients. How do you keep your freedom when someone so heavily depends on you?
As we mark another International Women’s Day I’ve been contemplating what it is that today’s women are truly looking for and freedom seems to be at the heart of it. Freedom to earn as much as their counterparts, freedom to work as well as raise children, freedom to choose whatever path they wish. Yet I sense we’re also wanting a new kind of freedom and the power of that lies deep in who we are collectively.
I’m currently writing this piece on the way home from a five week trip to Australia and Bali with our six month old. It’s easy to interpret this to mean I am still prioritising freedom and in some ways I am. Yet freedom has come to mean something entirely different to me now. Previously it meant being in charge of my direction through every decision but when travelling with our daughter we are always choosing what’s best for her and so plans change constantly. She’s put me in flow state and helped me embrace my feminine side.
In our modern day world it’s easy to forget the power of what it means to be feminine. The skills of listening to our feelings, trusting our intuitions and moving fluidly between tasks are mocked and dismissed in the corporate world so many of us — both men and women — have come to distrust ourselves. Yet imagine if we could make more holistic, intuitive, fluid and long term decisions in politics and economics? The world would transform.
What Does It Mean To Be Feminine Today?
Being feminine means I no longer get frustrated if I don’t finish a task within my set deadline. In fact it took weeks to write this piece, doing it in short windows of time that my new life allowed. It also means that if I don’t finish something, be it a book, an email, a household chore, that I embrace that as the way it was meant to be and know the world will keep turning regardless. Being feminine means I am more emotional yet also more emotionally sensitive to other’s needs. It means I have finally slowed my pace and find being happy now more valuable than aiming for a goal to bring future happiness.
Where can you soften today?
What situation in your life needs you to be more feminine?
Who could you be if you embraced this side of yourself?
[This applies to both men and women!]
Freedom traditionally was the realm of the masculine — men would value their space to roam, to hunt and to provide while women would value the space to nurture, to talk and to be still. The patriarchy values freedom but what we really need to value more is love. There is more similarities than ever before between men and women but it is often at the sake of these feminine gifts. Our culture doesn’t value emotional freedom only the freedom to do as we choose.
Freedom to me is now more than a location or a destination. It’s about being free to love unconditionally, to feel despite the pain of it. I’ve never experienced such strong emotions as since my daughter arrived. Yet that is the power of the feminine. It’s often seen as weak to feel, vulnerable to be seen, yet the truth is it takes more courage to stay soft in a world as harsh as ours.