How to Be a Woman

May 15th, 2008 by Steve Pavlina

Here are the results from the “How to Be a Woman” writing challenge I posed at the end of last week’s “How to Be a Man” article.

A total of 52 submissions were received. Erin and I both read every single one of them. By the time I was done, I felt like I’d just completed a course in Women’s Studies. My head was swimming with ideas.

There were so many valuable ideas offered that it was extremely difficult to decide which ones we liked best. Erin and I couldn’t agree on our favorites, so we decided that we’d share our individual top picks instead of trying to force ourselves to agree. Our #1 picks are listed in bold.

Erin’s top picks:

  1. Womanhood by Vicki
  2. How to Be a Woman by Hayden Tompkins
  3. How to Be a Woman by Hunter Nuttall
  4. I Am Woman by Millionaire Mommy Next Door

Steve’s top picks:

  1. How to Be a Woman by Suzie Fleming
  2. How to Be a Woman by Squawkfox
  3. How to Be a Woman by Emily Calle
  4. How to Be a Woman by Lola

Here are the remaining submissions (in the order they were received):

  1. How to Be a Woman by Turil Cronburg
  2. How to Be a Woman – Her Three Stages by K.S. Yu
  3. How to Be a Woman by Laura Thompson
  4. How to Be a Woman by Noa Rose
  5. How to Be a Woman by Helga Sombrofsky
  6. How to Be a Woman by Apollia
  7. How to Be a Woman by Rajbir Dhaliwal
  8. Consciously Being a Girl by Andrea La Rose
  9. How to Be a Woman by Nicholas Powiull
  10. What Does It Mean to Be a Woman? by Tiny Jäntsch
  11. How to Be a Woman by Shahnaz
  12. How to Be a Woman by Liz Maher
  13. How to Be a Woman by Myrlia Purcell
  14. How to Be a Woman by Kate Hudson
  15. How to Be a Woman by Romona Paden
  16. How to Live Consciously as a Woman by Niki
  17. How to Be a Woman by Sonya Sidky
  18. How to Be a Woman by Rachelle
  19. How to Be a Woman by Barb D.
  20. How to Be a Woman by Tamas
  21. How to Be a Woman by Mike Elias
  22. How to Be a Woman by Gretchen Cawthon
  23. How to Be a Woman by Avani
  24. How to Be an Attractive Woman by Andrew
  25. 5 Ways to Be a Confident Sexy Woman by Nancy Hayssen
  26. How to Be a Woman by Jennifer Bingham Heart
  27. Muliebrity by Rebecca
  28. How to Be a Woman by Rachel Knight
  29. How to Be a (Successful, Inspirational) Woman by Erica Douglass
  30. Be a Real Woman by Cheryl Hochstettler
  31. How to Be a Woman by Cathy
  32. Undefined Refinement: How to Be a Woman by Nicole
  33. How To Be A Woman (The Yin Warrior) by Candice Schutter
  34. How to Be a Woman by Niamh
  35. How to Be a Woman at Work by Karl Staib
  36. How to Be a Woman by Sheryn Bruehl
  37. How to Be a (Conscious) Woman by Carol
  38. How to Be a Woman by Svetlana Ovanesyan
  39. The “How to Be a Woman” Challenge by Lexi
  40. The Beauty, Virtues and Strength of a Woman by SpiritFREE1
  41. How to Go From Being a Girl to Being a Woman by Juanita
  42. How to Be a Woman by Beth Patterson
  43. How to Be a Woman by Monique DeBose
  44. Being a Woman by Lin Cremore

Hundreds of different ideas were shared in these articles. I took notes on every article, and I noticed several recurring themes. If I were to write my own “How to Be a Woman” article to summarize some of the strongest and most frequent ideas, it would include the following 10 pieces of advice:

1. Get to know your authentic self.

Discover the real you. Don’t blindly accept the role you were conditioned by others to fill. You have your own path to follow. Be your own independent person. Don’t allow peer pressure to force you into an inauthentic role.

2. Own your power.

Accept full responsibility for your life. Don’t live as a doormat, a sheep, or a victim. Stop giving away your power. You must accept that you’re the creator of your life and that no one is coming to rescue you. Many women stressed the importance of taking responsibility for your own financial future instead of leaving it in the hands of a spouse.

3. Find your voice.

Build the courage to express yourself authentically. Speak your truth. You deserve to be heard. If others react negatively, that’s their problem. Ask for what you want; you can’t expect others to be mind-readers. You teach others how you want to be treated — not by dropping hints but by telling them directly. If you don’t speak up for yourself, who will?

4. Find your tribe.

Consciously build and nurture a supportive network of positive relationships, including family and friends. Drop relationships that drain you; maintaining them is self-abuse. If you don’t like your current relationships, it’s up to you to change that. Surround yourself with good people who love you and inspire you. You deserve the very best relationships.

5. Practice self-care.

Avoid overwhelm by taking time to sharpen the saw. Give yourself permission to do what you enjoy. Demands from other people can wait. Accept that you can’t do everything for everyone. You can’t give to others when you’re empty inside.

6. Express your creative side.

Cultivate outlets for creative self-expression. Explore music, art, writing, poetry, etc. Build a business. Be artistic. Put your ideas into physical form.

7. Embrace conscious sexuality.

You and you alone must decide the role sex will play in your life. There are no right or wrong answers. If you want it and enjoy it, let that be enough. Different women had widely varying opinions on what kind of sexual expression they personally preferred, ranging from waiting until marriage to having guilt-free one-night stands. But the commonality was that they consciously decided and accepted what was right for them, regardless of how other people felt about it.

8. Be beautiful.

True beauty comes from the inside. It can’t be found beneath a load of cosmetics and surgical alterations. Recognize that you’re a beautiful person on the inside, and you’ll broadcast that awareness on the outside. You are beautiful.

9. Keep your heart open.

Regardless of how badly you may have been hurt in the past, keep your heart open. You’re stronger than you think. The rewards of love outweigh the risks of being hurt again. You’re here to express love, not to live in fear.

10. Become wise.

You are highly intuitive, so work on deepening your ability to trust your intuition. Keep learning and growing. In the long run, your wisdom will become one of your greatest assets, both as a way to meet your own needs and to help others. (Many women placed a very high value on developing their wisdom.)

***

Reading all of these pieces was amazingly eye-opening. I offer a huge “thank you” to everyone who chose to participate.

The point of articles such as these isn’t to dictate how you’re supposed to live. The point is to offer you different perspectives to consider, so you can make more conscious and deliberate choices for yourself.

Being a man or woman isn’t about blindly following popular gender patterns, nor is it about rejecting such patterns out of hand and rebelliously embracing their opposites. Ultimately you must define what kind of man or woman you will become. This is a choice you must make for yourself as an individual, regardless of what anyone else thinks. What kind of man/woman do you wish to be? Life awaits your answer…

I must say that I’m in awe of just how incredibly beautiful and insightful the readers of this site are. Thanks again for sharing your voice!



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