My attention was snagged this morning by a meme on Instagram. Posted on the Wild Woman Sisterhood page, the words resonated with me and have remained with me all day. Headed out the door this afternoon, to get the oil changed in my car, I grabbed a book to read while I waited. I returned that book to my bedside table, to be read another day. I felt drawn instead to pick up the newest book by Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness. The chapter I read, entitled The Quest for True Belonging, aligned perfectly with my thoughts about my journey and becoming the wild woman.
There is a wealth of information online and in publications about being a wild woman. I am a member in two different Wild Women groups on Facebook. It’s one of those “new” topics that is actually ancient. Within every female, young and old, a wild woman resides. Somewhere between our carefree days as little girls, and the responsibilities of adulthood, the wild woman inside can go dormant. But she is there, waiting to emerge again when we remember who we are.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés, who explored the myths and archetypes of the wild woman in 1990, wrote this definition: “Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity and ageless knowing. She is the wild woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women.”
Being wild is a very individual experience. It doesn’t mean partying all night, or engaging in illegal activities or being a difficult to be around woman. The wildness within women can be compared to the raw heart aching beauty of the wilderness…natural, instinctual, free, with cycles of birth, death and rebirth. It is a journey of becoming…becoming who we really are and throwing off all the things we aren’t. It is often an unlearning process first, as we shed all the people pleasing personas that we have learned to wear, to be more acceptable to others.
The meme I saw this morning.
Being a wild woman, then, is about women becoming their true selves, and allowing their hearts, bodies and souls the freedom of authentic expression.
Becoming the wild woman does come with a cost, as the meme above suggests. As I began to be who I really am, after years of going within and uncovering the real me, I appeared to change. A friend I have known most of my life, but see infrequently, has said that every time he visits he feels like he has to get to know me all over again. I am a different person each time.
I don’t think he meant that as a compliment. However, I received the remark as encouragement that I am truly growing into my authentic self. I am emerging, becoming, the wild woman. People who don’t understand might fall away. That’s okay. This is my journey. And part of becoming who I am involves learning to be solitary and stand on my own. And it includes seeing my own value and offering who I am unapologetically to others.
In Braving the Wilderness, Brené compares the willingness to stand alone as a wilderness…an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It takes courage, and a fierce wildness, to discover that true belonging means that we first learn to belong fully to ourselves.
She defines true belonging as “the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
This is my journey. I am becoming the wild woman…in all of my bohemian spirited, fun loving, creative playing, getting healthy, living free, heart open, communicating with the Divine, marching to the beat I drum, this is me glory. I am speaking with my own voice, sharing my best, most authentic self, and heading frequently into the wilderness, alone, in nature and within my own vastness, to explore ever more deeply who I am.
Joseph Campbell wrote, “If you see your path laid out before you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
The meme that inspired me this morning says that the wild woman you are becoming may cost you people, relationships, spaces and things. Choose her over everything. I am making my own path, step by step. I am choosing the wild woman that I am becoming. I am belonging, deeply, to myself. This is me.