I was always a tomboy. One of the guys. I cursed. I drank. I acted tough. That’s what guys want, right? And guys loved having me around. But they never treated me the way I wanted deep down. Sure, I had boyfriends, but more than once I got tossed aside for someone new and shiny, and a few times I let myself be used by guys in order to get their ever-so-brief approval. In college, I turned to feminism, dyed my hair blue (and many other colors of the rainbow), and went to protests, all in an attempt to be “not like the other girls.” The harder I struggled and fought to be “cool,” the further I drove genuine connections away.

One day, when I wasn’t looking for a relationship, I met a guy who was different. He saw past my tough exterior (and even my blue hair at the time). In fact, he’d caught me in a rare moment of vulnerability when he found me crying in a tree outside the University library, stressed over a paper. I’m so thankful today that I’m such a nerd, because crying over that stupid paper was just the bit of vulnerability I needed for him to see straight into my heart.

Over the years, through his gentle guidance and through my own personal exploration, I was able to open up to the love and emotional breadth I’d been missing for so many years. I realized that it is okay to be feminine, vulnerable, emotional, and all those “crazy” girly things I’d shut off in myself for so many years.

I am so much happier today being unashamedly in touch with my feminine side, yet I know how much typical feminine qualities are still demonized for young women today. I want to share the lessons I learned the hard way with you, because I have a feeling that inside you, there is a beautiful, joyful, loveable woman aching to get out.

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