22 July 2012

Princesses, Queens, and Life's Evolving Questions

Today is my birthday.

When I was about to turn 30, several people asked me how I felt about this milestone day. And I remember feeling completely at peace and content about it. There were no concerns, no worries about getting older. In fact, I felt empowered moving out of my 20s. I had a stable job. I owned my own condo. I had friends and fun dances to go to several nights a week. If I stayed home, it was because I wanted to, not because I had no one to hang out with. For the first time in my life, I acknowledged that I could be happy without having to be in a relationship. And, I started to understand that if I happened to be in one, I still had some control and choice about things would go.

But now that I'm inching closer to the next big milestone, I find myself asking deeper, more challenging questions. Things like:

  • What is my contribution to the world? What is my true calling?
  • Have I really let go of all that doesn't serve me? How do I dissolve fear?
  • How can I be of more service to others? How can I inspire other people?
  • Is it possible to fully feel desire, yet live a life of healthy moderation?
  • Does risk taking necessitate giving up all semblance of stability?
  • How can I experience life more fully? How can I die free of regrets?
In addition to tooling around the city and checking out one too many vegan and gluten free restaurants, I went to New York this weekend to attend a workshop offered by Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. The workshop was fantastic and contained more valuable pieces of information than I could share here, but I think one facet is particularly relevant. Marc shared with a rapt audience two archetypes of female energy: the princess and the queen.

He described a princess as a woman between 0-30 years old who is young, and thus largely unknown to herself. She is in need of validation and protection from outside. She's susceptible to "spells", or influences from others' opinions and suggestions. Her own negative thought patterns and beliefs can put her to "sleep", or cause her to suppress her feminine energy for the sake of being accepted and loved by others. Meanwhile, a queen is a woman who's 50 or older, who is powerful, wise, self-assured, regal. She knows what she wants. She can take care of herself, yet knows when and how to let others help her. She serves and is served. She is equal parts stability and vulnerability. Women between the ages of 30-40 are considered "late princess", and those 40-50 are "queens in training."

One interesting thing about these archetypes is the high value our society puts on princesses, and how it tends to devalue queens. Being young and skinny is something most women these days strive for, especially as they start to age. Instead of thinking about how to move gracefully into queen territory, some women attempt to retain their princess-like position with extreme dieting, exercise, potions and creams, or in more extreme cases, surgeries. If they have daughters, they may compete with them in princess territory, rather than focus on setting a good example of what it is to be a queen. Instead of surrendering to the uncertain, chaotic flow of life and nature that characterizes our inherent feminine energy, we can get caught up in the masculine energies of goal setting, striving, and competition in an attempt to hang onto our youth. We may keep "doing" things to fight against and control nature, instead of "being" in our queenly bodies with Mona Lisa-like smiles of deep wisdom on our faces.

Since I'm in the "late princess" category, I'm now thinking more about this. Are the deeper questions I'm asking the beginnings of my transition from princess to queen? Can those of us in such transitions resist society's influences and companies' marketing efforts to re-claim some lost queenly value, so future generations of women can have more quality role models? Can part of my contribution to the world be done by embracing my female energy more fully? Would doing so have other affects on my historically masculine-energized way of living?

Women, what do you think? Are you a princess or a queen? Is the energy you encourage and own more feminine or masculine? What does the world need more of? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy days to you all,

1 comment :

  1. I am definitely an older princess. I think that's where a bunch of my issues are at current; forcing my identity on a world that doesn't want me to have my own for some reason. I will say the older I get the happier I am with myself; I think the amount of time I have had in my body has lent to knowing how to take care of my body, so no worries on that front. I have a typical masculine bulldog approach to my life as well, so i am struggling to be with more feminine energy...I have always seen it as a weakness. Like what you were saying in regards to older women not embracing their queenly demeanor and holding onto princess by the fingernails...it's ridiculous to assume there isn't growth or change in our bodies but there is in our minds.
    I used to be a waitress, many years ago. I think I was 23. My least favorite tables were tables of 50 year old southern women; they usually hated me and never tipped me. After inquiring why to an attractive gentleman who seemed to be making more money off of those tables than I did, he told me they were pissed off I was young and pretty. Like, yowch! This is my LIVELIHOOD, ladies! Punishing me? Please. Of course, this guy may have just been fueling the fire, so no guarantees why I never made money with the red hat club, but i think there is a bit of truth to what he said. Princess by the fingernails. So my goal is to not have that attitude when I am older; but yet, as I said, I see it as a weakness. A true queen would probably get over that quickly.
    A princess to me is someone that wants someone to save her; I am not that person. I realized a while ago (late 20s...I guess more around my 30th as well) that was never going to happen and I needed to be happy with myself and my progress. And i am still fighting for that identity...I have a hard time accepting help and asking for it, so I have a ways to go to be a queen. But I think that you are on your way. You are asking the tough questions, and that self inquiry is truly the beginning of any change.