A Young Woman's Contemplation of Love and Womanhood

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

A Note to My Reader

The following essay is a collage. You may think of it as a playlist of sorts which takes the lines of songs and poems which have resonated with me through the years. They are the words of writers who have aided me as I questioned what is means to be a woman. While this essay does not encompass my full identity as a woman, it does give a glimpse into the misconception I have shared with many throughout my childhood and adolescence: that my womanhood is inseparably linked to my ability to be loved by a man. As I matured, my romanticism strengthened in my taste of literature, music, and poetry. Much of what I was drawn to revolved solely around love and loss of love as if these were the two modes of a woman’s life: to be in love or not to be.

These lines are the culmination of a young woman's contemplations as she reflects on a lost love (Love), who she is now that her love is lost (The Remembering), and who she finds coming out on the other side of heartbreak (Womanhood). I believe it is important to note that these are the musings of a young woman and taken from bits and pieces of love songs – if this essay seems cliché, remember that clichés are formed in some truth. When you’re young and learning for the first time, all these simple truths feel like revelations. This essay reflects that truth for me.


Late coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, the holy hush of early morning. She dreams a little, and she feels the dark encroachment of that old catastrophe: heartbreak.


just before our love got lost you said

“i am as constant as a northern star”

and i said, “constantly in the darkness?”

even then i knew

we didn’t understand each other.

now here i am falling downwards to darkness,

you weren’t constant at all.

i'm scared.

i've never fallen from quite this high.

but there’s no use trying to fight gravity on a planet that insists,that love is like falling

and falling is like this.


In the isolation of the sky, at evening, casual flocks of pigeons make ambiguous undulations as they sink, downward to darkness, on extended wings.

The Remembering

losing him was blue like i'd never known

leaving me a lonely painter,

submerged in blue,

with an empty space to fill in.

i've loved and i've lost

all pleasures and all pains,


passions of rain, or moods in falling snow,

taught me love.

gusty emotions on wet roads on autumn nights

taught me patience.

grieving in loneliness

taught me pain.

only in falling out of love

do i remember

i am not his angel.

and so, i remember,

before i spend half my paint and all my mind

trying to be something beautiful,

not to waste my humanity on

trying to be a woman for you.

I will paint

in glory to enduring self-love,

not this dividing and indifferent blue.


What is divinity if it can come only in dreams or in love? Shall she not find in comforts of the sun, in pungent fruit and the beauty of the earth, things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?

Divinity must live within herself.


baby really hurt me

so I guess I’ll go home into the arms

of the girl that I love.

I light all the candles

cut flowers in all my rooms

I care for myself the way

I use to care about him.

it’s like I’ve just met

this woman. she knows my life, she knows my devils and my deeds,

and she says,

“it’s in the reach of my arms,

the span of my hips,   

the stride of my step,   

the curl of my lips.   

I am strong.

I am woman.”

they’ll say I move on too fast

but this one will last.

I say to her,

“it’s the fire in my eyes,   

and the flash of my teeth,   

the swing in my waist,   

and the joy in my feet.   

I am woman.”

I say,

“it’s in the arch of my back,   

the sun of my smile,

the ride of my breasts,

the grace of my style.

I am woman.”

I’ve just met this woman,

but she taught me love. she taught me patience. how she handles pain, that shit's amazing.

now I understand

the bend of my hair,   

the palm of my hand,   

the need for my care.

I’m a woman


phenomenal woman,

that’s me.

I am wise but it's wisdom born of pain. I've paid the price but look how much I gained.

I am strong.

I am invincible.

I am woman.


Sources In Order of First Appearance

Wallace Stevens "Sunday Morning"

Joni Mitchell "A Case of You"

Billie Ellish "Ocean Eyes"

Ani DiFranco "Falling Is Like This"

Taylor Swift "Red"

Joni Mitchell "Blue"

Ariana Grande "thank u, next"

Lorde "Liability"

Lorde "Hard Feelings/Loveless"

Maya Angelou "Phenomenal Woman"

Helen Reddy "I Am Woman"

All drawings by Rupi Kaur

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