Do kids know that they should behave a certain manner according to their gender? Is it a natural instinct for them to act like a “girl” or a “boy”? Or are they mostly conditioned by their parents and society to be restricted by what a female or male should and should not do? This is a question of nature vs nurture.
The reason why I’m compelled to write about this topic is because it just struck my mind as I reminisced my childhood days – how I behaved from then till now. I realized one thing; I wasn’t a very feminine girl when I was a kid. Truth be told, I was actually tomboyish and I had no idea that it was considered “wrong.”
Probably wrong in society’s eyes, wrong in my parents’ eyes, and perhaps just wrong to grow up not knowing the boundaries of a how a girl should behave. But of course, I didn’t knew then. All I knew was that I was being myself totally and I had no qualms about it.
I grew up with three younger brothers – all of whom I was given the responsibility to take care of at a very young age (I reckon I was 10 years old back then when I was introduced to “babysitting.”) My parents were busy working so they “transferred” their roles to me. I didn’t find much difficulty in performing my duty as the eldest child. In fact, I learnt a lot of things during the process.
Growing up and being fully involved with three boys shaped my character and behavior differently than my other female friends my age. I still remember how they would correct my unsightly sitting position (imagine legs wide apart – or the “crotch display.”) Quite unsightly, I know. Even my dressing was nothing short of a boy’s. T-shirt & jeans. Always. No dresses or skirts, no frills or ribbons, no cute prints whatsoever. I dressed like how my brothers would – and I thought I looked cool.
I only started changing to be more feminine when my best friend and mum both advised me to be more “girlish.” Especially my mum; I believed she was getting worried that I’m hitting 12 and still not being a girl.
Thinking back, I enjoyed my childhood thoroughly. I enjoyed being who I was – tomboyish, bold, wild, carefree. I guess that’s what being totally free to be myself felt like. I wasn’t hiding any part of me that others would otherwise thought to be “unacceptable.” I had my freedom to grow up naturally like that and I’m glad that was me. Really, no regrets.
Now that I’ve changed dramatically in terms of how I behave in public, I kind of lost that sense of true identity… I don’t know if there are others out there who are going through/have went through this process, but I find myself struggling to be myself around others now, sadly. Even at 21 years of age, I’m honestly still in the midst of finding my true self/identity. Going back and forth of “how should I behave around people/friends?” “should I behave like how I do at home – loud and carefree – or should I behave appropriately?” My current behavior that I show to people right now is the latter.
As a matter of fact, my characteristics when I was a kid were not completely lost. I still am not so feminine, still bold, and still sometimes rough in my movements/actions. The only difference is that I have developed/adopted a more feminine side over the years because of what society tells me to do and because I think it is supposedly how I should behave — which is rightfully according to my gender.
Thinking further into the future, if I were ever to have my own kid(s), how should I let them grow? Should there be a balance of “behaving according to their gender” and “being themselves”? All I know is – I want them to discover their true identities and not be afraid or be in a dilemma of how to act in front of others.
What is your take/experience on this topic? Let me and others know in the comments section. I’d love to be exposed to your perspective 🙂
Thanks for reading! Till my next post –