Am I A Complete Woman?
( Originally Published 1918 )
IT is well for every young woman to sit down and frankly face the question, "Am I a complete woman?" We are too apt to take ourselves for granted. We are not quite willing to admit the unpleasant truth of our own shortcomings. Yet the process need not be so disagreeable a one as we may at first imagine; for, having discovered wherein we are lacking, we can, if we have the requisite will power, set ourselves definitely to work at making good that lack. With determination and persistency, we can overcome almost any defect. And as we observe our own growth and development, we will enjoy that triumphant exhilaration which comes from getting the mastery over an obstacle.
Suppose you take a quiet hour to sit down and look yourself over critically. Take a piece of paper, if you feel so inclined, and make two columns, one headed STRONG POINTS, the other one WEAK POINTS. Do not be afraid to write down the truth as you see it. Put aside false modesty, and say all the good things you can about yourself. But, on the other hand, be equally frank to admit your faults.
It may be that you are one who has abounding physical vitality and who follows her natural bent in that direction to the detriment of her mental development. You are physically active, perhaps, but mentally lazy. The physical activity is commendable, but you must see to it that you direct more of the force gained through physical exercise into mental channels, until you bring up that part of your nature to the same degree of development as the other.
It is more likely, however, that exactly the re-verse is the case. Although the day of anemic heroines has passed and our young girls no longer feel it necessary to eat chalk and other detrimental substances in order to give their complexions an interesting degree of pallor, nevertheless too many of the young girls of the day are following their ambitions in the mental realm to the detriment of their physical development. The girl who stands high in her classes is praised by her teachers and her parents, and feels herself to be occupying an eminence of achievement. Too often, however, she has gained this position by the sacrifice of her physical activity. She is alive, but she does not possess overflowing vitality, a superabundance of energy which bubbles over in good spirits and bright cheer that is a source of inspiration to all about her. Health and strength and good spirits are essential to successful living, and for the sake of her future happiness, every girl should conserve these price-less possessions. Moreover, these are the foundations of beauty and charm. They are, therefore, essential to the completeness of every woman.
So, if you have a bad complexion, or pimples, round shoulders and a hollow chest, a lackadaisical manner, or an ungraceful gait, write them all down in the column of your defects and then set to work to find out how to overcome them. It only requires a little persistency, for almost every defect which you may discover can be overcome by proper methods of living and the right kind of breathing and exercise. And who would not devote herself to such simple efforts each. day for the sake of becoming a complete woman?
There are other points to be considered, how-ever, in this study of yourself. The young woman who feels that she does not want to marry, be-cause of the work which that may entail and the self-sacrifice which may be involved, is not a complete woman. She is lacking in the very essentials of womanliness. Responsibilities are a joy to one who has the courage to meet them, and the greatest pleasure in the world comes through sacrificing oneself for those whom one loves.
So far does this fear of an undue amount of labor affect some women, that they are willing to forego the greatest blessing of all, motherhood, in order to escape the additional burdens which it may bring to them. Can such claim to be complete women? They do not know the joys of which they are depriving themselves. Neither do they realize how unnatural is their state of mind and heart. There are no exercises of the body to be prescribed for those who have reached this supreme state of selfishness. They may serve as a warning, however, to the younger women who may be in danger of placing their own personal ease above the normal joys of life. If, as you closely scan your own thoughts and feelings, you find deep hidden within your-self an impulse, or even the beginning of an impulse, in this direction, root it out with a ruthless hand, knowing that that way lies the ultimate destruction of the very highest and best of your womanly nature.
The normal woman is not afraid of responsibilities. Work is to her a joy, because she has the strength and vigor to accomplish with ease whatever lies before her. Her family cares have, from the beginning of time, been the means of woman's unfoldment, and of the development of the human race. The girl who finds herself disinclined to fulfill her daily duties should begin at once a course of vigorous exercise to build up her physical health. Once she has overflowing vitality, she will find pleasure in everything that she has to do. With deep breathing and outdoor exercising, she will find the normal instincts of womanhood return to her. Life with its manifold opportunities will beckon to her. She will follow gladly, rejoicing in the knowledge of her own completeness, and ready for the duties that may come to her through the fulfillment of her womanly functions.