About three years ago, I was going for a stroll in my neighborhood towards the beach. My default walk is brisk, and I have always joked that I have my father’s gait. I’m three steps ahead of whoever I’m walking “with” and in a hurry for no particular reason. This stroll, like many, was solo. It was the weekend, the two longed-for days that never quite last long enough.
Out of nowhere, it hit me. This time harder than usual. That feeling of complete and utter worthlessness. It was heavy, zapping any ounce of enthusiasm I had to enjoy the beautiful walk to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Then the script started playing: Everyone around me seems so much more fulfilled, happy, and worthy of being alive. I am insignificant.
It was a recurring and troublesome mindset.
But what felt like a miracle happened. Instead of sinking further into the “I feel bad” cycle, which makes me feel even worse, I thought: Where is this coming from? Do I really deserve to feel this way? For once, I questioned the status quo self-talk. That little shift in thinking marked the start of my journey that has brought me here.
Women and men are suffering from an epidemic in our society: the glorification of our masculinity and the belittling of our femininity.
I want to clarify that the masculine and feminine that I’m referring to is not what we stereotypically mean in popular, everyday culture. A stereotypical masculine person in America is an adult man who is a breadwinner, works out at the gym three times a week, has a strong sex drive, and eats a diet full of red meat. While this image is not unrelated to the masculinity I am talking about, it only happens to point in the general direction of the behaviors associated with the masculinity that I address here. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung taught us that every person, regardless of their sex or gender, must have a healthy balance of masculinity and femininity. Unfortunately, few understand what he means by this. The dialogue on Jungian femininity and masculinity is largely kept within the confines of academia and niche communities. It hasn’t penetrated mainstream conversations.
Set aside what you know about feminine and masculine for a moment. Let’s try a different dichotomy.
Feminine is being.
Feminine is feeling.
Feminine is play.
Masculine is doing, thinking, and executing.
Femininity = presence. It is meditative. It inspires. It heals. It fosters creativity.
Masculinity is getting the job done. It’s pushing through grad school. It’s getting up in the morning to negotiate a deal, deliver a presentation, and meet a deadline.
Feminine is vulnerable. Masculine is armored.
Feminine is of the body. Masculine is of the mind.
This topic is very personal to me. I used to live a feminine-scarce life. I was raised to believe that love and worth were earned. Making good grades. Getting a degree. Bringing home a paycheck. Accruing the landmarks of “making it” in life. Everything was a formula. Everything needed to have a utilitarian purpose. If it wasn’t practical, I had no use for it. Beauty, art, pleasure, and play were frivolous.
The repercussion? I regularly endured overwhelming waves of wretchedness, like the day I went on a seemingly innocent walk to the beach. I suffered a loss of purpose. Disconnection from my body and emotions. Suicidal ideation. Chest, neck, and back tightness that led to excruciating pain. Teeth grinding.
And yet I had a Master of Science degree, a job I truly loved, and lived in one of the most beautiful places in North America.
Through dance, meditative movement, therapy, and a newfound spiritual/psychological practice, I learned that my fleeting happiness was because I had abandoned my femininity.
Masculinity is not wrong. It is not inherently bad. The message that is lost on most of us is that both femininity and masculinity are necessary to find what we’re all seeking: fulfillment, wholeness, and purpose. Masculinity is why I have a 9-5 job with a 401(k), and it’s how I came to publishing the first article of the Feminine Play series. Without masculinity, I would still be living at home with my parents, working an unfulfilling job with no future, and forever dreaming about what I want to accomplish in life.
You have one life. To opt out of the full feminine and masculine human experience is not only a betrayal to yourself, it creates suffering in yourself and your community. The ripple effect is immeasurable.
I want to be clear that my message is not just for women. On the larger scale, our men lack femininity and suffer the consequences even more than women. I am excited to discuss in this series how women in particular can tap into their inherent being-ness and creativity.
You have a gift. Regardless of your income, age, gender, sex, body shape and size, racial or ethnic background, relationship status, education level, sexual preferences, or religion, you have something that no one can ever take away from you.
That gift is the experience of your feminine bliss.
I will always drive home this last point. If you are experiencing suffering in your life, taking a journey into your feminine is a guaranteed way to expand the scope of your wholeness and joy. But some of you may require professional help. You may need additional talk therapy or body therapy. Investing in your psychological and emotional wellbeing is the best investment you can make. So if you’re on the fence about seeking help, I am here to say do it.