Now that I am in control over my life in regards to where I will be living and what I want to do, I've been doing some thinking. (Being married to an athlete was a tough lifestyle, we lived in 3 cities in 3 years, and from year to year we were never certain where we'd be next. I never felt like I had much control over my future.) I've begun entertaining the idea of getting my PhD--especially if I find myself living in Italy after I finish up my degrees, internships, and licensure (which is at least a year long process from when I return home in May).
I've been thinking, if I do live in Italy (and this is a HUGE "if"), what would I do? I certainly don't speak the language well enough to be giving advice to strangers. Well, lucky for me the University in Lecce has a "doctoratto" program in "psicologia." Doing something like that would accomplish a few things at once. First, and most obvious, it would further my education. Second, it would be a crash course in Italian. And third, it would give me something that was 'mine' when I got here. I would have my own friends and classmates, my own reserach and work. My life would not be reliant on Paolo--and I need that.
This line of thinking got me kind of excited, and I thought..."hmm, what would my thesis/dissertation be about? What am I interested in? What do I wonder about human nature?"
Something I've been thinking about lately is: In a female's mind, what does she believe makes her "a woman?" Aside from the normal, "I can have a baby" or "I have boobs and long hair and wear dresses and uncomfortable pointy shoes" what else defines her as a woman?
Had this question been asked 50 years ago the answers might have been more simple, "being a mother makes me a woman" or "being a wife" or "taking care of the house." And for some, those things are still true today. But for many others, they aren't. So what is it now that defines us as women? Are there any commonalities anymore?
We are a confused species these days, us women. We are plagued with guilt from every angle. If you chose to be a stay-at-home mom, should you be working? If you are a working mom, should you be at home? If you have no desire to ever be a mom, is something wrong with you? If you have no desire to be a wife, are you a lesbian? If you want time to yourself, are you neglectful? If you have a meltdown, are you crazy? If you have a high-powered career, are you a bitch? If you want a man in your life, are you needy? If you don't, are you frigid? If you expect others to pitch in as much as you do, are your expectations waaay to high???
I came up with those examples in as long as it took me to type them. The list goes on and on. We are all so very different, our desires range from one extreme to the other. But there is one common denominator. We've all experienced the feeling of guilt about what we want, or what we choose to do. As humans, we are defined (and judged) by the choices we make, and women today are all making very different choices. So, in regards to my (imaginary) thesis, I started to wonder if there were any underlying themes about what we believe defines us as women.
I thought about myself--how do I define a woman? It me took a lot longer to come up with these answers than it did to come up with the "guilt list." Here are my top three defining qualities: 1) Her complexity 2) Her intuition 3) Her ability to comfort.
Her complexity--I'll use myself as an example. I want to be a wife and a mother. I also want to be a therapist and a world-traveler. I want to be a woman with hobbies, friends and time to herself. I want to write, to learn. I want to be independant, yet I want a partner to take care of me. I want to be able to cry one minute and laugh the next. I don't want to have to sacrifice any of those things while at the same time have the time to enjoy all of them. Is that possible?
Her intution--I believe that many women turn off the little voice inside their heads because what it's telling them is true. They don't want to believe it, so instead they go with what is at face value only to find out later (often the hard way) that their gut/voice/heart was correct. I've learned to trust that voice. It's there for a reason.
Her ability to comfort--This one is kind of more by default. Women inherently know the right thing to say in a difficult situation over a man any day. We are more comfortable dealing with other's pain (according to my studies, both men and women prefer working with female therapists, and this is one of the various reasons why). Whether we are the nurturing type, the tell-it-like-it-is type, or the sympathetic, "let's go shopping and get a drink" type we often know just the right thing to do to help a family member or friend feel better.
I could ask 100 women this same question, and get 100 different answers. Or, quite possibly, I could see some themes emerging. And, if this were a real thesis then I would have to hypothesize about those potential themes and do real research and stuff (blech). I would also have to take cultural differences into consideration (it would be really interesting to see if Italian women would answer differently than American women--my guess, YES.) But since this is just one of the many things that swirls around in my brain as I put off studying Italian a little bit longer, I'm not going to do any of that for the sake of a blog. If this actually comes to fruition, I'll let ya know the findings. In the meantime...
Ladies, what makes you a woman?