I struggled for a long time to consider myself as a woman and not a girl because we just call each other girls despite our age. As if being a woman is old and sad? But boys can’t wait to become men. Or do you have to shoulder great responsibilities like marriage and children to qualify? I don’t know what it is that signifies that transition from girl to woman but I think it’s important to see that as a beautiful and powerful and desirable change.
You don’t need to be sweet and selfless and pretty and kind and nurturing at all times. I mean at the base of it yes because all human beings should be. But like society and media have always made us think that that is the desirable girl. Lol, desirable woman. The good woman. Watch Yi Seo in Itaewon Class. Ko Moon Young in It’s Okay To Not Be Okay. Byun Hye Young in My Father’s Strange. Learn from them. How to stand your ground. How to not let society place you in a helpless position. How to fight back. How to be rude and fierce when it is to protect yourself or those you care about and not feel one bit guilty.
Money is the way people control you. Have your own money. Save it. Figure out investing at some stage. Don’t rely on your parents, partner, brother, whoever to do that for you. You don’t need to be good at math or business. It’s not about that at all. It’s about knowing your value, making sure you’re reaping the benefits at work and ensuring that you aren’t just spending all your money on stupid shit and making unnecessary decisions. You will learn only by making mistakes. God knows I still am. But money will always mean power. And as a woman, you need a lot of that in this world.
Surround yourself with women who have found a way to be who they are. How will you know who they are? They just have that aura. You can’t miss it. No, they don’t always wear a power suit and hustle. And no, they don’t always write self-help books. They are women in your life. They do whatever they do because it’s their decision and that’s why they always look so content and joyous. I get that sometimes you don’t have that choice. Like IRL I really am not able to meet such women. So then I turn to writers and my mom and her friends and the vice president at my company and artists. I don’t have to be BFFs with any of them. I just have to observe them and take in the good and learn. Reach out when I need to. And stumble and stumble and stumble.
Don’t ever give up your life for a man. That’s literally the worst thing you can do as a woman. That’s a quote from the kdrama The Package that I can never get out of my head.
Emotional stability is critical. People will play you and they will be shameless and they will do it all again. You cannot seek validation or your worth from their actions and words. You cannot rely on them. It would be nice to but you can’t. Even if you lose everything else, don’t lose your emotional stability and belief in yourself.
Illustration: Libby Vander Ploeg