How are you? I know that people ask you this a hundred times a day, never really meaning it, never really looking you in the eyes when they let it replace “Hello” as a meaningless conversation filler. But I want to know who you are. I want to hear what’s going on at work, what you are looking forward to this weekend, and the time you didn’t stand up for yourself on the playground at eight years old which haunts you to this day. I want to hear about all of it. If you have time, you should tell me.
I know it’s not always easy. I know that people are always trying to tell you — with your salary, with offhanded comments as you walk down the street, with judgments about your personal choices — that your definition of both feminine and human are incorrect. There is always something about you that could stand to be perfected, and you are always trying to buff it out and make it shine. But that’s ridiculous. You do not need to be smaller, or quieter, or take up less space in the room. The world needs more of you in every way, even if it so often forgets to tell you that.
Thank you for showing me that a woman can be so much more than what has been carved out for us, that we are not bound to be housewives or mothers or perpetually unfulfilled career women. Thank you for reminding me that the definition of my womanhood, and the things I want to do in life, are entirely up to me to construct as I go along. Thank you for doing multiple things at once and refusing to allow any of your many labels define you entirely. When you cook, when you order takeout, when you forget to eat entirely because you’re too busy doing other things, you are just as fully and perfectly a woman. You have never let anyone else tell you that your choices were worth less simply because they were yours, and I know how much that takes out of all of us.
Thank you for being brave, for fighting the slow, quiet fights which are never measured in body counts or blood shed. You have always lived as proof that there are battles we all must wage every day, battles which, if fought correctly, can allow everyone to win. You fought to make your children go to school, or to make your friends believe in themselves, or to teach a lover how to touch things with care. They might never quite thank you for telling them what they always knew, on some level, was best — but you were always fighting for them.
You are selfless, and maybe it’s because society has always expected you to be. But I have a feeling that, even if you weren’t born into a body which labeled you “nurturer” from the beginning, that you would have always had a commanding grasp of human nature. You see things and understand them without needing to be told, and you care for them even if they can offer you nothing in return. You are a good person because your love does not come with conditions and ultimatums, it is as limitless as it is painfully unfamiliar to so many of us. We are not used to being loved the way you can love.
Please never stop loving, never stop defying our expectations of you, and never stop reminding us that our expectations are absurd in the first place. We could all learn to be more like you. And I would ask you to be patient with us, but I already know that you always will be.