As 2016 comes to a close and I reflect on all that’s happened over the last year, blah blah blah. Here’s the deal. I learned one thing this year, and it was pretty life changing so I’m sharing with you all. Even though 2016 will go down in history as one of the craziest, wtf years in politics; for me, 2016 will always be the year I learned to be unapologetically myself. From my sexuality to body image, humor to social views, I let it all hang out there this year and truly embraced my self-confidence.

So why do I feel the need to share this revelation with you? Simple. I’m not alone, especially when it comes to women. It took me 31 years to get to this point. When I was a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. While many of my girlfriends were planning their dream wedding, I was envisioning an adulthood where I’d live in a cabin alone, with a giant dog (still sounds appealing tbh).

The point being, society told me what it meant to be feminine and I just didn’t fit the bill. In terms of beauty, I was flat chested, too tall and while relatively slender, had big thighs and was not ‘toned.’ In terms of humor, mine was both odd and at times perverted, dry and sarcastic (still is) – not at all ‘ladylike.’ I had no trouble asking someone out on a date. I was forward yet sensitive. I was what one could consider girly, but not really. As I got older I was told that wearing high heels on a date was a big no no as it would be intimidating to be taller than the man.  I enjoyed menswear and action films but also liked wearing makeup and could cry on a dime. I was stuck in this tug of war between the mold I thought I had to fit and what came naturally. Over time I began to think I was some outlier amongst women. But that’s not true at all. In fact, what I realized this year is that the vast majority of women feel the same way I did. And it’s all due to the massive lie we’ve accepted as truth.

As women we’re told that if we’re too sensitive we’ll be seen as weak, but if we’re too forward we’ll be branded brash and unattractive. Or on the flip side, if we’re pretty and dress well and are successful we must have done something else to get there. That somehow it couldn’t have been on our own merit because being smart and being beautiful are somehow mutually exclusive. And if somehow a smart, beautiful woman is successful we say it’s “not fair” for them to have it all. And I’m ashamed to say that I bought into that viewpoint for a long time. I was judged by other women and in turn, I judged other women based on how they presented themselves to the world. It’s a terrible thing because as I now know to be true, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL WOMAN. The idea of what it means to be a woman, to be feminine, is a MYTH. And worst of all is that as women, we’ve bought into this myth. We believe it. We judge each other and ourselves based on something that doesn’t even exist.

Here’s the kicker – once you realize that it’s all bs, and it is, one giant pile of bullsh*t, you can embrace the woman that you naturally are. And while this notion can certainly apply to men, it’s really a needed gear change for women and how we view ourselves and others.

Somehow I’ve subconsciously surrounded myself with incredible women, many of whom live unapologetically. Women who manifest their feminism and womanhood in various ways that are true to their individuality. But I know that there are so many that do not, out of fear of judgment or being misunderstood, or because they falsely believe that it’s not appropriate or womanly. I know, because for 30 years I was one such woman.

This idea may be a hard sell for some. But if you’re someone who has been struggling with your own internal tug of war over how to be a woman in the world, this is for you. I need you to know that you’re not alone. The way you express your femininity is the right way, because there is NO ONE WAY.

So this is my New Year’s wish to you all. Be yourself. Be unapologetically yourself. Embrace every side of yourself. Because there’s no such thing as a typical woman. And believe me, YOUR UNIQUENESS IS YOUR GREATNESS.