His fingers brush the carved silver cuff that typically decorates the edge of my left ear.
It isn’t a question, but I answer:
“In my head, I’m a warrior princess,” I explain.
I laugh sheepishly, but I’m not completely joking.
I’ve long been drawn to accessories with an edge. A vintage leather motorcycle jacket several sizes too large in the shoulders. Dark red lipstick. Lace trimmings—and metal details. Beautiful things—with a shadow side. (Most of which, sadly, has no place in my present life.)
But it goes deeper than metal and lace, of course.
For years now I have been a not-so-dedicated student of martial arts. From muay thai to capoeira, jiujitsu to taekwondo—and beyond combat, to climbing and horseback riding—I delight in action that makes me feel powerful, even fierce.
And at the same time, I pursue yoga and dance of every variety—sensual movement and flow—holding grace and strength in equal esteem.
In my head I’m a warrior princess; in reality, I’m a reasonably strong, somewhat injury-prone, 24-year-old white girl who would almost definitely lose in a fight.
Who am I kidding?
Maybe myself, and that’s all that matters.
I may not be as strong as a warrior, but I’m so much stronger—fiercer—than I was, and getting stronger every day. I’m moving, slowly and steadily, toward an image that was once pure whimsy.
The fantasies in our heads are so much more than unattainable fictions.
They are maps—if we follow them.
Just as the negative stories we tell ourselves can be tangibly destructive, the positive ones can be constructive.
Those fearless, badass princesses and warrior women who peopled my early bookworm years served as excellent heroines—and examples.
My brother used to make fun of me for always choosing books with “strong female leads,” but you know what? I give those fairytale, fantastical, far-fetched stories at least partial credit for helping me become the “strong female lead” of my own story.
So, do our childish fantasies—of warrior princesses, noble heroines or dragon-slaying, armor-clad badass women—matter?
Damn right they matter.
In my head, I’m a warrior princess, and every day I aspire to cultivate the strength, courage and grace to match that image.
These stories in our heads? They aren’t idle whimsy or passing fancy; they are powerful.
So, let’s own them—and make them real.
Author: Toby Israel
Image: Franco Folini/Flickr