Throughout my life I’ve always been the rough and tumble kinda girl. Brought up on outdoor pursuits with mud, water and sticks as playthings. Yeah… much as I hate the term… “a tomboy”.
I fit in so well as “one of the lads” and am luck enough to have been accepted on an equal footing with “the guys”. I’ve never been into the girly stuff like make up and pretty clothes: this set me apart growing up especially with going to a girl’s school. Maybe I’m lazy but it all seemed like too much effort especially when I’m not pretty or popular!
I’ve always followed my dreams and tried things out. A pathway which keeps leading back to the great outdoors. I’m a fully qualified bushcraft instructor and I love it. I trained in a group where there were just two girls and 14 guys.
As usual I got on like a house on fire with the lads and warmed to the open and raw honesty. Everything is out there at face value. Just how I like it.
And now I work with two of the guys. At work we get stuff done because we speak out about our thoughts and wishes. Don’t get me wrong… we have filters but it’s open, fun, raw and quite a bit cheeky. I love the camaraderie.
Sadly there is a but…
I’m not one of the lads.
I’m a girl and have to deal with “girly things”.
I envy the ability to just be. Not on a rollercoaster cycle of ever changing emotions. No bleeding from intimate parts. No insanely crippling cramps that stops work and play. No fears over what pregnancy will do to the body.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t actually want to be a boy. But I am hugely jealous of them being able to just be.
Whenever we are arranging camps, expeditions and trips there is always the worry and in my head the frantic calculating over where I will be in my cycle and what it means for logistics.
I worry that if I get it wrong I’ll be a burden not an asset. That I won’t be able to lead because I’m doubled over in pain. Or that I might be crouching down to demonstrate a carving technique, spotting a deer track or harvesting materials… and sense that horrid squishy feeling that means I better sort myself out now or there will soon be mess on show!
But there is no now, no facilities, no leaving the group I’m in charge of, no nipping behind a tree… and it sets me on edge. I find myself more and more turning down opportunities that “one of the lads” would jump at in an instance.
Now we want children…
So here is a new dilemma…
I’d love to be signing up to go on the next international expeditions as an assistant leader. But… there is just so much to think about. The next Arctic exped is going in February. I could be 8 months pregnant by then. Maybe. So I won’t sign up to even be considered… and then again I could still be trying to conceive and have missed out for nothing! Peru has Zika virus so would be a dangerous place to go while pregnant. But I want to go help with the amazing archaeological dig in the desert and drive Landrovers through the sand!
There are some big camps coming up… but what if they fall exactly during my small fertile window? That’s another month of potential gone. I don’t want to miss any time at all. Especially now I’ve experienced miscarriage and know how difficult it can be to get to hold your healthy baby in your arms. So I won’t sign up to lead it.
And so my confidence drops as my skills are eroded by the passing of time. I become more and more “just an office girl” and I lose. I lose my sense of belonging as “one of the lads”. I lose my skills. I lose my connection with nature. I lose the opportunities to see the world. I lose the chance to do great things. I lose myself.
There are ladies out there who do all the stuff I dreamt about. But I don’t know how they do it. I’ve not been lucky enough to come into contact with amazing Outdoorswomen who could have pointed me in the right direct of how to cope. I feel pathetic and stupid.
And now… I’m on the brink of being sidelined. By myself. I’m taking away my own dreams.
I’m no longer “one of the lads”.
I don’t have a group of girly friends. I don’t know how to do “girl”.
I don’t fit in anywhere and it’s killing me.
I’ve debated long and hard about whether to post this story. But this is me… and I am open and raw… so here it is!
I mean no offence to anyone who does “girly”. It’s just not my thing: probably because I never experienced it or got accepted by the girls. I guess I’ve always been the outcast and I found my niche with the lads.