Updated: Nov 12, 2020
This week we had the pleasure of delving into ‘Growing up Female’ with Tanaka! She’s a Mum-preneur who also works full time and has a blog about all things female experience related. If you're looking for a woman to connect with and talk about life, she's the one!
This one’s not just an episode for the girls, it’s to enlighten the guys out there that there is so much that women go through that you would never know about – and a lot of it is because we’re in a society where we don’t share the gory details of heavy periods or cramps with men.
To listen, click here.
We go through what happened on our first periods and see the commonalities and differences in each of our experiences. There are benefits to knowing you can relate to most of the other girls around you because you’re all developing at the same time, you can share experiences of this new and (weirdly) exciting phase of life – a time when African mums and aunties start saying “you’re now a woman”. It’s always good to not feel like you’re alone or too different at such a young age, but what’s it like if you’re a late bloomer, not knowing what cramps feel like until well into your teens? Most people would instinctively say “sounds lucky!”, but picture the mind of a teenage girl – how isolating it must feel, developing into a woman by reaching puberty is something that would affect all of the women you know, being the odd one out can breed a self-consciousness that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Then one day you get that coveted period and realise… I’m going to be aching every single month for decades… yay.
Tan talks about how her experience is still, to this day, a hugely problematic aspect of her life. Having lived with extremely severe symptoms which have left her knowing she could faint each time she has a period, or crippling pains which have sent her on a years long search for a diagnosis for her condition. For her, it’s not even the not knowing that affects her most – it’s the years of visiting doctors, most who have taken a passive approach and one who took a vested interest in finding a way to really help her. For most women, it’s just something we get used to, it’s painful, uncomfortable and at time inconvenient, but mother nature actually puts some women’s lives on hold each cycle. The best option is to keep communication lines open with one another because you never know when someone might tell you “that doesn’t sound normal, you should get that checked out”.
We also delve into what it’s like being on the spectrum of the only girl in a house full of male siblings to a growing up in a house where your dad is the only male. It’s interesting and funny at times to see how something like chores are distributed among the siblings, we were expecting to have a lot more shared (common) ground on this topic, but we found that different households really do run their business in a unique way! Some will place the responsibility more heavily on the first born and another household will share the duties based on each child’s personality. We’re basically able to conclude that it’s unlikely your 13 year old self will ever think it’s fair! On a much deeper level, there’s always the question of “how does the way you were raised shape the adult you become?” – the responsibilities and expectations of something as trivial sounding as chores or the games you were allowed to and encouraged to play, yes, all of these contribute to the career you will one day think is “calling you”. You personality and preferences are shaped from the beginning and it’s incredible how so much of it is culturally based, and ends up forming the people we become. It begs the question – how much of the woman I am is down to my own authenticity and free will, and how much is created by my upbringing?
As always, let us know via DM or comments on Instagram/Twitter @thetlpodcast; how it was like, growing up female for you, how much of it felt common and which parts felt totally unique to you at the time? How do you think the way you were raised in your household formed the person you are today – or did you completely rebel? The stories of everyone’s ‘first times’ are always interesting to share, it’s typically a pivotal moment in a young girl’s life, so we want all the details! We want to know what your relationship has been with your monthly visitor, is it a secret source of shame, a general part of life, or has listening to Tan’s experiences made you think it’s time to see a professional who can help with something you don’t know is healthy? If this sounds like you, trust us, you’re never alone!
Visit Tan’s blog on https://www.rudorwaishe.co.uk/blog for more details on her journey because there is so much more to learn!