When I was growing up there was a lesson which repeated itself so many times it became a foundation on which I built my adult life. BE STRONG. When you fall get up as quickly as you can, wipe away your tears and move on. Be ready - because life isn't easy.

Another lesson, equally important, was BE SELF-SUFFICIENT. My mom taught me how to cook and bake cakes before I could reach the stove, I learned how to use a sewing machine so I could make dresses for my dolls. When I was about eight my parents divorced and I sometimes had to pick my brother up from preschool, take him home and heat up lunch. My mom did a lot of DIY around the house and I often helped her; I learned how to plaster and paint walls, assemble furniture, use a drill. I would also help grandma plant vegetables in her garden; this is one of my fondest childhood memories. My dad taught me, among other things like self-defense, to drive when I was 12. I was small and had to have padding on the seat. They did what they thought was best for me; the only thing a parent can do.

By the time I was 18, I was ready to live alone anywhere. I am sure I would have survived on a deserted island. Or could have made a career as an undercover agent. Miss Bond.
So when I moved to London at 21 without much of a plan, it was scary but also exhilarating. I somehow knew I would be fine; after all, I'd had good training.

Be strong, be bold, be hard-working, face your challenges with no fear.

I was always proud of the strong, self-sufficient woman I grew up to be. My fearlessness helped me jump into the unknown many times. My boldness helped me face any challenge that arose and there was even a bit of pleasure in jumping through the hoops of life. I embraced change with a sense of adventure and thirst for new experience. And love... Love was something to burn for and die for over and over again. I wanted no less in return.

Meanwhile, while I was busy playing this bold and passionate warrior princess, another part of me quietly waited in the shadow, pale and shy, hungry for light, peeking out only when it was safe, when the warrior princess was too tired or distracted to pay attention. This part of me is also a princess, but a soft, gentle, passive and vulnerable one, sitting in the shadows, waiting patiently. The one the warrior princess saw as helpless, as weak, preferrably hidden, because weakness is bad. If you're weak you can't be strong, bold, or fearless.

But, Life knows better. If we don't see ourselves as a whole, Life faces us with greater and greater challenges. If we're still not willing to look, it gives us a battle. A battle in which no usual strategies work. A battle which ultimately destroys the unwhole, unintegrated Self we've learned to live with and accept for who we are.
Life isn't mean. It does this so we can build anew; so we can be whole.

For the warrior princess within me, it took a series of battles to get her on her knees. But, now I see what Life was trying to show her. Show me. Now I see all of those parts I still need to accept, integrate and learn to love. The soft, gentle, passive feminine part. Passive. A word which still creates a bit of discomfort. I am still learning that softness and vulnerability isn't weakness, it is my strength. But, It's a process. It takes a lot of undoing.

There is nothing wrong with being strong.
There is nothing wrong in being bold.
There is nothing wrong with being adventurous.
There is nothing wrong with being soft.
There is nothing wrong with being passive.
There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable.
Vulnerable doesn't mean weak.

Only when Shiva and Shakti unite can we be whole. The yin and the yang. Feminine and masculine.

Some of you, beautiful warrior princesses out there, are probably smiling right now because you see yourself in these words. I know so many of you. I know how lonely it can feel and I know how heavy the armour can be. But, you don't need to wear it all the time. And you don't need to fight your battles alone. Don't be afraid to put on a pink dress sometimes. No matter how silly you think you'll look in it. Wear it with pride. Wear it with joy. Hell, wear it under your armour next time you go to battle. Until there are no more battles.

And whatever you do, learn to accept and love the whole of you. The Shiva and the Shakti.

(Photo credit: Lorna Kijurko)