I love women. Not sexually, this isn’t a coming out story. But growing up around such a mixture of different women in my life has molded and shaped me into the person I am.
The well-known African proverb, which stated, “It takes a village to raise a child”. And my village is right in the middle of Ireland. My family. But a family is not necessarily blood, but rather love. And I was one of the luckiest girls to grow up around so many inspiring women who probably don’t even know how much effect they ever had on me.
My child-minder. A woman who I have so much respect and love for that it overwhelms me. You know in movies when the loved one of the main protagonist gets captured and threatened and it is the weak point of the main character that cannot get them to think straight out of worry for the person taken? She would be my person. She (helped) raise me and with her kindness, softness, value for people around her and her ability to love herself, I have become a better person.
My hairdresser. From 6 years of age the same woman, who is still in denial that it’s been that long, has cut my hair. Through the years I was probably just another kid customer who nervously came in with her mother but I remember watching her and was in complete awe of everything she did. As I got older, conversation strayed away from “How’s school?” to something actually meaningful. With birthdays, weddings, and recent parties, I have visited the hairdressers at least 5 times since summer started. Which means we’ve gotten to the stage where she can say she’s sick of me, while telling me we need to go out together soon. Even though she’s been in my life so long, she probably looks younger than I do!
My cousins. Anyone who knows me knows how fondly I speak of my cousins. The lads are great and I love them to pieces but I’d talk to them to rant, rather than to seek advice. I’ve done everything from getting make up tips, to crying on the phone to them, to getting drunk with them, to having renting hotel rooms together, to asking the questions you don’t want to ask your parents, to having shouting fights, to having snuggle movie nights, to going camping with, to avoid going camping with to having moments which I would never trade for the world. These were the two ladies who always saw through me, because they were the only two who I let in. And I have absolutely no regrets.
My aunts. Five women who I’ve pulled positive traits from. These were the women who encouraged my feminine side. Who bought me handbags and shoes, and brought me shopping for fun. I’ve grown up watching them bake, and knit, and sew, and cook, and create magnificent paradises in their gardens and helped me realise that the world is so much bigger than I imagined, and that it’s okay to throw a tantrum when you’ve dealt with so much (as long as you don’t hurt anyone in the process), and that it’s okay I’m not a master chef and that I can be an independent person and that any career is possible and that …well… anything is possible because I’ve seen them do the impossible. They were always the invincible women in my life.
My mother. One of the strongest women in my life, and definitely the one who everyone takes for granted. Although I have very little in common with her interest wise, she always tried her hardest with me. And I will forever be grateful that she never forced me to be someone who I wasn’t. But there are so many traits in her, which I admire that I could go on for days for. However, the one that I cherish most is her honesty. My mother is a lot of things, but she is not a liar. She is very good at avoiding conversation topics and dodging subjects if she needs to, but she is no liar.
My friends. Growing up in an all girls’ school creates a bond that I hope never ends. Four of my best friends entered the daunting grey gates with me in 2009. Although we are all in University now, I could never imagine my life without them. They are the sweet souls who taught me that it’s perfectly okay to be lame- as long as that is who you are. We’ve conquered puberty together with late night DMC’s, baking sessions, cheesy movie nights, wildlife adventures, cosy days in, alcoholic nights out and six years of never being let down by any of them. I feel privileged to be around these four strong women who I watched grow with my very own eyes. It’s impossible to be sad around them. They are my world.
My Lecturers. Recently this has become more meaningful to me. I never had male teachers in primary or secondary school, so the biggest change for me in University was adapting to male teachers. It surprised me how different I found it. I felt more intimidated in the class room to ask a question and felt even more awkward in person if I ever had to go meet them. However, for almost two years I have had a few female lecturers who probably don’t even remember me. But I remember them. I remember emailing them and not feeling scared of their reply. I remember chatting to them informally about what they love, instead of nervous stutters. There were always few girls in my classes, so speaking to a female in charge was always reassuring and empowering. My educators helped me more than their job entailed.