Essential Archetypes: Why ALL Women Can Be Warriors

Last week, we continued exploring the four essential archetypes that inspired my foundation: Mother, lover, warrior, and sage. Today, let's discuss the Warrior archetype.

When life gives you something that makes you feel afraid, that’s when life gives you a chance to be brave.
— Lupytha Hermin

Do you consider yourself to be a warrior? Many of us don't. In fact, when I first started writing and speaking about the concepts of mother, lover, warrior, and sage, I learned that the “warrior” identity was the hardest for most women to embrace. The women I spoke with would tell me, “But I’ve never served in the military,” or “I don’t think of myself as a fighter.” I understood these comments and valued their honesty.

But in the big picture of women’s lives, being a “warrior” doesn’t always mean being a fighter.  It doesn’t always mean wearing a uniform and taking down enemies in combat. It doesn't always mean being physically strong and completely fearless. It certainly can, and many of the women we think of as quintessential warriors kick butt in the most literal of ways! Ronda Rousey, Tammy Duckworth, Harriet Tubman, and Grace Hopper all are valiant women warriors, and deserving of our admiration.

But the warrior woman in you—in me, in each of us—is simply our bravest, most autonomous self. She is self-sufficient, unafraid to ask for what she needs, and brimming with ambition. This brave self gives us the ability to set goals, to make decisions, to build our own lives.

The warrior woman in you is a planner, and she is a doer. She has fears and weaknesses and sometimes she stumbles and falls. But when she is weary, she doesn't quit, she merely rests. Pausing to replenish her energy and prepare herself for what comes next. She writes her own life story, one task at a time.

 

Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.
— Margaret Thatcher

Consider women like Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Consider Clara Barton, a trailblazing nurse during the US civil war who founded the American Red Cross. Both were women of action, unafraid to enter dangerous territory so they could help heal the injured. They never took up arms themselves, but they were brave warriors nonetheless.

Consider Rosa Parks, who stood up for her rights as a Black woman during a time of tremendous prejudice. Consider Amelia Earhart who flew solo across the Atlantic during a time when women weren't “allowed” to be pilots. Consider Aung San Suu Kyi who was a political prisoner for 20 yearsin Burma, but became so beloved and respected for her bravery that she went on to lead the very country that had imprisoned her.

All are warriors, through and through. Courageous, self-reliant, ambitious, and visionary.

But all are extraordinary examples, and may feel out-of-reach for us average Janes. So what does the modern-day warrior in each of us do? How can we lead our communities in solving social problems? How can we follow in the footsteps of legendary women like Helen of Troy, Joan of Arc, or Cleopatra?

Here’s how: We can stand up and speak out when we see injustice. We can show compassion, push beyond our fears, and help those in need. The warrior spirit works in each of us. It’s the inextinguishable fire that drives us to fight unfairness, fight indignities, fight hopelessness. And it's the calm, wise, centered energy we need to set boundaries for ourselves, meet our own needs, and chase our dreams tirelessly.

 

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
— Maya Angelou

While researching my new book, Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, I spoke with dozens of women who had married warriors, but had to learn to view themselves as warriors, too. As they faced down life-changing decisions, wrestled with endless medical jargon and unending bureaucracy, and were forced to reconfigure their entire lives around a beloved and now-disabled spouse, they dug deep and summoned up their inner warriors. These women weren't fearless, but they knew how to face their fears with dignity and patience. Their spouses fought bravely on the battlefield, and they stepped up to fight bravely on the home front.

May we all draw inspiration from their examples. May we all stretch out a welcoming arm to our own inner warrior, pull her up, and embrace her wholeheartedly. The world needs warriors who fight with might, but also needs warriors who fight with words, with generosity, with big, bold acts of love.

Let us all charge into battle armed with determination, kindness, and the knowledge that our determination alone can move mountains.

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her her way, she adjusted her sails."

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