by JK, UK
I recently had an amazing opportunity to ask myself “Who am I?”
I realised that the Me that I share with others is often far from the me I have come to know myself to be.
Let me explain.
The inspiration to ponder on this came during a regular women’s group I attend in London. We were asked to pair up with another woman who we didn’t know and ‘get to know each other’. With the woman I sat next to, I found myself reeling off a list of where I lived, my age, how long I’d lived in this country and so on. Towards the end of this list I looked at the other woman and paused. I naturally felt to ask her what perfume she was wearing as she smelt lovely, and because I asked her playfully our connection immediately deepened as I smelt her perfume and we continued talking from there and giggling too.
The women’s group was then asked how our conversations had gone, and it wasn’t until this point that I realised I had reeled off a list of factual information about myself to the other woman. I then wondered did that give her any opportunity to ‘get to know me’? And who was the ‘me’ that I was presenting to her?
I had relayed the kind of factual information they collect for the national census data! – which some may feel gives us an indication as to who people are, but, I could feel it was perfunctory, cold and factual without really giving any indication as to who I am in full or moreover who I am as a woman. It also felt unnatural yet ‘normal’, in that I could recognise how when asked about myself it was commonplace for me to reel off the same or a similar list to others, in many different situations. More so, and related to this experience, it is only very recently that I have stopped presenting myself to others as ‘what I do’ (my job, my studies etc.), because I have realised that those are things I do but not who I am.
I then felt back to the moment when I playfully asked the other woman what perfume she was wearing and how much more natural that felt. From feeling this, I could also feel what I had actually wanted to express was that:
- I love red roses
- I love the smell of roses too
- I love lavender oil in my bath
- I adore butterflies and bees
- I love the feel of cashmere wool on my skin
- I love walking in nature
- I love seeing the moon in the sky
This was more ‘me’ than the ‘census data’ list of facts (which of course was true but just facts).
What I realised from the women’s group that day is – I am a beautiful, tender, loving woman and whilst I can feel that, I don’t present that in the way I express myself to others, particularly when I share a little about myself with them. They simply get the ‘facts’ and nothing more. Whilst there was nothing wrong with me presenting the facts e.g. where I worked and so on, the way I expressed them was also factual, without giving away any sense of the deeply tender, gorgeous woman I know myself to be.
This is now work in progress for me – I’m pretty sure I’m not the only woman who responds in conversation when asked to ‘get to know another’ in the way I did, with the facts, in a perfunctory manner. If that is so, I wonder what kind of society we are creating where we as women, simply exchange factual information with each other in a perfunctory way?
This leaves me with a question:
What if we express tenderly and more deeply as women whatever we feel to express in that moment – even if it is a love of roses or the delight in seeing a butterfly – or even if we said ‘gosh my feet feel tired today’, in a more open and honouring way?
Is it possible that in this way we could encourage all women to come out of their shell (if they are in fact in one, or hiding in any way), and truly shine in their expression?
From my own recent experience I have realised that we can create a more tender, open exchange amongst all we meet, by expressing what we feel in that moment – allowing us a natural warmth in our relationships with friends and strangers alike. How gorgeous is that!