By Surrounding Myself With Positive Female Influences, I Became a More Authentic "Me"
Last year has definitely been the most fun of my life. That is not to say it was plain sailing, I succeeded in all I hoped I would, and now have it all figured out. Quite the contrary.
The adult life figuratively burst through my door without any warning while I was dancing around in my headphones.
I transformed from a cute teenager snapping at her catholic upbringing to a gal who had to provide for herself basically overnight. This all happened in the picturesque Berlin scenery, where I, a recent college dropout, had arrived with a boyfriend who then broke up with me after two months. It was clearly a mess and I had to either figure something out or get back home to mama.
I'm so grateful for that period. I basically had to build all my immediate social circle from scratch. It taught me not to take anyone's kindness for granted, but more than that, it was the time of some genuine soul searching and developing my character. That's when it started to dawn on me that just as I'm struggling to become my very own money generator, I also need to be my prime source of happiness.
I'd probably never be able to actually adapt this idea, but having my social interactions limited to ordering a kebab, I had no other choice. And, for the first time in my life, I really embraced the beneficial influence of female role models. I grew up with two older brothers and it has never occurred to me how inspiring the presence of other girls in my life can actually be.
From established female figures and girls I personally knew, from distant brief encounters and longer chats alike, I started to collect bits and pieces. Sometimes that was a lesson, and on another occasion - an inspiration, a warning, or a guidance. Always an insight into another woman’s universe, ultimately exposing many diverse faces of womanhood. Sometimes not at all relevant to my personal situation. But I found that the harder I tried to put myself in another woman’s shoes, the better I was able to understand my own struggles.
And because of that, I decided to be a bit more gentle and give myself a chance.
Instead of breaking my neck studying something I hated for the sake of future glory, manifested in a safe and steady income, I focused on writing more, what brought me genuine pleasure, although I truly had no idea how this could ever end up as a legitimate income source. Believe me, I really had a hard time forgiving myself for not having lived up to everyone's (myself included) expectations. It felt like I failed at playing it safe and was hanging on to a thing that could never make it into reality.
Luckily, the lonely Reinickendorf evenings constantly interrupted by the roaring planes preparing to land at Tegel enabled me to get to know myself better. I came to the not so astonishing conclusion that I'd have to put up with myself for quite a few years to come, so I might just as well be a little bit more understanding. I trusted myself enough to incessantly repeat to my mum over Skype that somehow I'm gonna be alright, and that mantra has gradually come true.
Before, I'd always dismiss concepts of self-empowerment as too generic or even egocentric. I felt like I really had to go to great lengths to get anyone, myself included, even believe in me. But that’s when that female influence came in handy. I realized that all the women I admire are okay with owning up to their flaws and admitting their failures. They’d agree that bad, fruitless days are sometimes unavoidable because the hustle ain’t pretty and the energy just sometimes isn’t there, but you have to embrace the mundane and pull through. One of my favorite podcasts last year was Sophia Amoruso’s Girlboss Radio, where she’d interview different women and talk to them about their achievements in the most candid, down to earth way.
They laughed at their mistakes, so why shouldn’t I?
After I came to terms with the fact that I’m human and that comes with certain limitations and self doubt I sometimes can’t control, I got to be proud of who I am. Because I’m my own girl and I know I'll go for the uncertain again in the name of living the life on my terms, no matter how that may turn out. Again, from my observations, I’ve learned the difference between empowerment and conceit.
And that’s what makes me so enthusiastic about writing for ReproJustice - especially sharing the stories of the terrific females I’m friends with. I hope their drive will fuel yours like it did mine.
*image by Matheus Ferrero
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Michalina Gorajek is a Berlin based writer.