When I was younger, I hated the fact I wasn’t born a boy.

I hated having to smell nice, look nice, act nice.  I wanted the oft’ wryly said phrase “boys will be boys” to apply to me.  I wanted to live “free and in the wild,” as I told my parents.  To own a horse in my backyard.  For ages I firmly believed I didn’t want a husband, ’til one day I declared I had changed my mind–he would be useful for shoveling horse poo.

Although my opinions about being a girl have slightly changed (I do want to marry, and not just to acquire a stable boy), there are still many things about being a girl that bug me to no end.  Crossing my legs the feminine way.  Wearing skirts that force me to shorten my steps.  Shaving–completely unnecessary in my opinion.  The inability to wrestle with the guys.  The shortage of girls that don’t mind blood and sweat and dirt and good hard work and adventures and wild places experienced fully and up close.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized one thing…

My version of femininity is up to me and God.

I can be a girl without the “y”… being “girly” does not have to be part and parcel of being a female.

So this… this is what has risen up in the soul of me and trumpeted itself clear and I will not disobey its call.

I will go barefoot as much as possible.  Run in the rain.  Laugh loud and hearty.  Splash in puddles.  Play in the mud.  I will wrestle when I can.  Play stupid pain games with the boys.  Be more comfortable with proving myself physically than in petty social games.   Ooh and ahh over fuzzy green moss rather than flowers.  I can shout loud and try hard and grunt and strain with the best of them.  I can climb tall cliffs and swim in freezing lakes and splash up forest streams without a care.   I can get psyched at the growing callouses on my hands and feet.  Take pictures of flappers and blood blisters, battle wounds.  Be proud of every single one of my scars, and know the stories that I carry with them.  I can love big, and love hard, and love unreservedly.  I can prefer bear hugs over side hugs.  I can choose jeans and flip flops over dresses and jewelry.  I can love bright colors over pastels and lace.  I can feel most comfortable in a tank-top, flannel, and hiking boots.  I will prefer to eat my food simple and outside and end the days with campfires.  I can smell like wood smoke and good ol’ hard work.  I can howl at the moon when I feel like it, star spin when I feel like it, pick my crazy friends how I feel like it.  Love like my heart’s leading me, laugh as joy explodes with in me, be free and wild when the urges overtake me.  I can be impulsive.  I can be silly.  I can be adventurous.  I can be me.

Me, Ashley Elizabeth Wilda.  Or just Ash, what my closest friends call me.

A woman.  A girl.

Not girl-y… no, just a girl.

But still me.

And I like myself better for it.