Since the beginning of time, humans have been trying to understand those strange, beautiful, confusing, and powerful creatures that walk among us: Yep, I’m taking about women. It’s no easy feat — after all, it can take a lifetime to truly understand what the experience of being a woman is really like. And if you're a gal who’s anything like me, that experience tends to change a lot. Like daily. Or, hourly. Sometimes depending on whether or not it’s raining, or if there’s chocolate in my purse, or if I just got off the phone with my mother, or ... well, you get the picture.
I think we can all agree that women are fascinating. And complex. And inspiring. And wonderfully quotable.
Speaking of quotes, here are 12 entirely brilliant female authors whose words do a pretty fabulous job of summing up the good, the bad, and the sometimes just plain icky of what it means to be a woman. To gather this list of quotes, I looked at some of the amazing authors who have helped me figure out my own messy self, and they won’t disappoint you either. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be proud of your lifetime membership into the sisterhood. Check ‘em out.
1. “I am human. I am messy. I’m not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I am just trying — trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.”
― Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist
2. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
3. "If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared, most of all, to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself, then truth will not be withheld from you."
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
4. “Tampon commercial, detergent commercial, maxi pad commercial, Windex commercial — you’d think all women do is clean and bleed.”
― Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
5. “As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”
― Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
6. “What if I forgave myself even though I'd done something I shouldn't have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I'd done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn't do anything differently than I had done?”
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild
7. “Failed relationships can be described as so much wasted make-up.”
― Marian Keyes, Watermelon
8. “Because of all the kinds of love there are out there — romantic, passionate, parental, spousal, brotherly — the love that is touted as most unassailable, complicit, and colluding is the love between sisters.”
― Alexandra Fuller, Leaving Before the Rains Come
9. “When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’ what she really means is: ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman
10. “Part of happiness was to be loved by [someone] who enjoyed your strength and was proud of your talents. Happiness was also about the right to privacy, the right to retreat from the company of others and plunge into contemplative solitude. Or sit by yourself doing nothing for a whole day, and not give excuses or feel guilty about it either. Happiness was to be with loved ones, and yet still feel that you existed as a separate being, that you were not just there to make them happy. Happiness was when there was a balance between what you gave and what you took.”
― Fatema Mernissi, Dreams Of Trespass
11. “It was once suggested to me that, as an antidote to crying, I put my head in a paper bag. As it happens, there is a sound physiological reason, something to do with oxygen, for doing exactly that, but the psychological effect alone is incalculable: it is difficult in the extreme to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one's head in a Food Fair bag.”
― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem
12. “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
— Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter