When I was in therapy last year, I made a breakthrough. I changed from feeling helpless and vulnerable to being secure and confident. My therapist said I had transformed from being a girl to being a woman. I did feel that. Gradually, I stopped seeing myself as a victim; my anxiety disappeared; I trusted that I could meet my own needs; I turned to myself for comfort; I felt okay being on my own. I was no longer a child; I became an adult.
As a result, my quality of life improved dramatically. So did my dating life, and the reason was simple — I knew what I wanted and I was determined that I would not settle for less. Most notably, I stopped fixating on the small things and started looking at the big picture. As my therapist’s words echo in my head, I conclude that this is what distinguishes a woman from a girl the most.
When it comes to relationships, a girl chases after little thrills while a woman considers the big picture.
What does this mean?
Little thrills bring instant gratifications and meet immediate needs— romantic expressions, sweet gestures, cute gifts, longing text messages, relationship labels, “I miss you”, “I love you”, etc.
The big picture builds a foundation and yields long-term benefits — Core values, life goals, aspirational lifestyle, future needs, etc.
A Girl vs. a woman in relationships
When a girl goes on a date, she looks for someone who makes her feel loved, desired, and excited.
She’s interested in having a relationship, and that’s what she cares the most about. Becoming someone’s partner makes her happy and validated. Feelings and sparks are very important to her. She believes love conquers them all.
She’s nervous about her future, but she feels more comfortable suggesting going with the flow. She has an idea of what she wants if she’s asked to envision herself in the next five or ten years, but she doesn’t want to think that far yet.
When a relationship turns south, she finds it incredibly hard to let go.
She misses the good times, the good morning texts, the long phone calls, the fun trips. She goes back and forth with her ex and gets her hopes up whenever they are responsive. She looks for signs of interest and convinces herself that there must be a meaningful reason they’re still hanging around. She feels bad for ignoring or blocking them.
When she finally ends her last relationship, it doesn’t take her long to put herself out there again and find someone to date.
She doesn’t feel good being on her own or being single. She loves the attention and validation she gets from dating. She puts a high value on her romantic partners’ opinions and interests. Again — she wants to feel loved, desired, and excited. Her life feels empty without these feelings.
A woman is different.
When a woman goes on a date, she looks for someone who can add substantial value to her life — the life she’s working hard to build each day. She has a clear vision of what that life looks like. She knows exactly what she brings to the table.
She’s interested in having a relationship — only if this relationship aligns with her life goals and core values. Otherwise, she’s more than happy to be single. She validates her own feelings and trusts her judgment. She puts a high value on consistent efforts and long-term investments.
She doesn’t mindlessly go with the flow; she’s intentional. She doesn’t just do whatever it takes to meet her current needs; she also takes into account her future needs and goals.
She’s patient. She’s straightforward and firm.
She doesn’t put herself out there to be chosen — she’s the chooser.
When a relationship turns out to be a liability, she immediately takes a step back and makes decisions that prioritise her dignity and well-being. She doesn’t hesitate to draw boundaries and cut off someone who isn’t compatible with her.
She understands that it’s normal to miss the past, but it doesn’t mean she should hold onto it and let it stop her from living her dream life. She knows she deserves her dream life and she can make it happen.
How to level up
My journey of growth has shown clear results thanks to the push of therapy, but it didn’t start with therapy. It started a long time ago — I’m talking about years — when my ego got seriously bruised for the first time and my future was nothing but a blur, yet I told myself I could do better.
It hasn’t been a linear process. It involves many steps backward, many emotional shocks, many epiphanies. It takes patience and resilience. I’m also nowhere close to the end if there’s even an end. Well, it’s an on-going evolution as there will naturally come changes and challenges. That said, being a secure woman is definitely a good place to be — I can’t complain.
If you’re ready to embark on this leveling-up journey and become the woman you’ve always wanted to be, here are the steps you can follow:
Progress in thinking.
First, you need to have the right mindsets (meaning the mindsets that prosper you) and a high level of self-awareness to know where you went wrong and what you could do to get the results you want next time.
You achieve this by reading books (I can’t stress this enough!), talking to smart people, attending therapy, keeping your mind open, finding female role models in your life and in the world, journaling, and anything that helps you expand your intellectual capacity. Over time, you should be able to look back at your past self and see a gap between you then and now.
Progress in actions.
After you make sure you have a good head on your shoulder, it’s time to show it in your actions. This sounds simple but it really is not. It’s because lots of what you do are based on instincts, ingrained reactions, and behaviours learned from early life.
When you’re emotionally invested in a situation, forget about rational thinking — you’ll automatically rely on these instincts, reactions, and behaviours, which are incredibly hard to change. It can take years of therapy and self-work.
It’s easier to do differently when you’re not emotionally charged. So what you should focus on is not getting yourself into those situations in the first place. Make practical changes in your life — lifestyle, habits, routines, etc. to ensure you’re in a healthy headspace. When it comes to relationships, choose differently each time. Learn through practice.
Invest. Invest. Invest.
The best investment is the investment in yourself — your education, your career, your bank balance, your friendships, your health, your heart, your soul. Never stop building yourself even when you’re in a relationship. Cultivate good values and a deep interest in things that have nothing to do with relationships and your partner.
Frankly speaking, when you’re secure financially, it’s easier to feel secure emotionally. In fact, everything in life becomes easier. And remember that having happy relationships is only one out of a few pillars that make a human flourish. You need all of these pillars such as meaningful work, physical fitness, mental fitness, and sound sleep — they’re equally important.
Build a loving, committed relationship with yourself.
Throughout this process, you need to build a trusted, committed, loving relationship with yourself. You need to believe deeply that you deserve your dream life and you’re 100% capable of achieving it.
One tip is to be mindful of your self-talk — catch yourself immediately if your inner voice turns negative. You can also write loving and encouraging letters to your future self or journal your days in an empathetic voice. And what’s more, listen to inspirational audiobooks and podcasts that empower women.
In your daily life, simply make choices that are good for you and keep doing it. One day, it will become your second nature. It will feel weird to treat yourself any other way and pain will become foreign.
You’re the queen of your life and you can make your dreams come true — believe that.
Now ask yourself “What do I want in life?” and allow yourself to want it. Think “What kind of woman has it already?” and act as if, while working backward to where you are.
If you need some inspiration, here’s a quote for you:
When someone tells you it can’t be done, it’s a reflection of their limitations, not yours.