I was listening to our local radio station the other day in the car with my daughter and the (female) deejay was discussing the new British prime minister, Theresa May, and described her as being a “difficult” woman because she didn’t put up with any nonsense. Because of course that is how we describe women who don’t put up with bullshit — difficult.
I shut the radio off and decided it was a good time to talk to my daughter about being a “difficult” woman.
I want to her to be fiery. I want her to be difficult. I want her to be a girl-boss — not a bossy girl; there is a difference. I am proud that she has mastered the art of not putting up with anyone’s bullshit at such a young age. I like how she doesn’t pour on the drama every chance she gets; she is stoic. She was just born this way, and it’s who she is through and through.
But I also know in the coming years she will be put in different situations, and it will get harder to be the boss of herself. I want her to know she has to remain the boss of herself. After all, there is no one better suited for the job. Here are seven ways raising girls who comfortably and confidently assert themselves.
1. Be the boss of your body.
That body is yours, and yours alone. You decide when you want to share it with someone. Remember, even if you say “yes” and let somebody touch you, kiss you, or hug you and then change your mind and want their hands off you, that is okay — that still means no. Dress the way you want and remember it’s not an invitation for anyone. People may tell you that you are sending the wrong message, your dress is too short, your hair would look better if you grew it out, or you should dress more like a lady. It’s not your responsibility to make sure people don’t look at you a certain way because of what you are wearing. You wear what you want, what makes you feel like the best version of yourself.
2. Be the boss of your needs.
Ask for what you want from others, but take care of yourself. Never let your happiness depend on someone or something else. So many times we think we will be happy if we have this, if we have a partner, or if certain people would approve or like us. That happiness is always fleeting. When you are able to fulfill your own needs because you know what sets you on fire and are able to take control of your own life, that is when the magic happens. Waiting for someone else to fill a void is extremely dangerous and never works.
3. Be the boss of your voice.
Don’t use somebody else’s voice; just use yours. The wonderful thing about you is there is no one else like you. I want you to remember that when you feel like you should conform just to avoid conflict. The people who will stick around in your life really do want to hear the real you, not a watered down version of you. You have a voice, and I love hearing you use it. Some people may call you a bossy girl because of it. They will probably call you a difficult woman, a bitch, or maybe even worse, but that’s not an excuse to keep your mouth shut — keep talking.
4. Be the boss of your feelings.
You know how you feel; listen to that. Don’t try to stuff your feelings away, because they will always resurface. Make sure you deal with them in a healthy way and express yourself. Don’t let someone else talk you out of your true feelings. You are the only one who will know the true reason as to why you feel the way you do.
5. Be the boss of your actions.
If you screw up — oh honey, you are going to screw up; it’s how we evolve — own it, apologize if it’s necessary, and move on. Tell peer pressure to fuck off. Your actions are a reflection of you, and you alone. If everyone else is doing it yet it feels wrong to you, it’s because it is the wrong decision for you.
6. Be the boss of your intuition.
This is when your soul and mind come together. When your intuition is telling you something, listen very closely. It’s the one thing that never lies; it can always be counted on.
7. Be the boss of your opinion.
You have an opinion; don’t shy away from expressing it. You can always speak your opinion (even during an argument) in a kind way. Some of the time, though, you aren’t going be able to hold it together. You are going to get really angry, disagree with people, and come unraveled. Just remember, we can’t take back things we say, so make sure it’s worth it. (Note: Sometimes it is definitely worth it.)
I know I will have many more talks like this with my daughter in the years to come. Shit, I still have to have them with myself. It’s not easy to stand up and talk about how I feel, disagree with others, and ask for what I want. But I will, and I want her to see it. If that makes me look like a difficult woman, a bitch, or a bossy loudmouth, so be it. I don’t give a fuck. I would rather my daughter see me as all of those things, as opposed to someone who never had the courage to be who she really wanted to be and say what she really wanted to say.
And honestly, I have found most women who are labeled as “difficult” are too busy getting shit done to even care. So, I will wear that label proudly. My daughter will too.