I’ll be going about my day and then—bam!—I remember the cheetah story from Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed.
It’s a story about her visit to the zoo where a caged cheetah is on display. This powerful, majestic, and radiant animal is dumbed down—sorry, trained—to chase stuffed animals around her cage. Her primal instincts are of course not welcomed in this cage. In fact, her primal instincts are an inconvenience. You see, the zoo keepers want her for something specific: to perform menial tasks (like chasing stuffed animals) in order to bring in customers which makes money for the business.
But despite years of obedience training (and being sedated, for good measure) that cheetah still pauses once in a while to stare out beyond her cage. Maybe she remembers her wildness? Maybe she knows there’s more to life? Maybe her body craves a 100 km/h sprint?
And then, as she turns back around to face her reality… she goes back to chasing stuffed animals.
The story of the cheetah is Doyle’s metaphor for women caged inside the patriarchy. How our wildness is an inconvenience. How our obedience benefits the master. How we’re praised for doing menial work when our instincts know we’re so much greater than that. How we’ll never feel the rush of sprinting 100km/h in the wild, but beat ourselves up for having the audacity to desire it.
One of women’s greatest superpowers, I think, is compartmentalization. How else could we give birth and then just go on with our day as if a human didn’t just plop out from our bellies?!
But in a double-edged-sword kind of way, this ability to compartmentalize also makes us wonderful captives.
We can rationalize suffering for 8 hours a day if it means we can come home to a beautiful family.
We can rationalize accepting what’s given to us because we tell ourselves we could have been given less.
We can rationalize an unsupportive partner because, well, they chose us and that’s better than not being chosen.
So yes, I go about my day thinking about this cheetah story often.
How many times in my life have I looked out the window, my primal instincts glitching in the matrix, itching to feel more wildness before turning back around and rationalizing myself to “be grateful for what I have”?
How many times have we all looked out the window with a desire to build something of our own? To write a book? To leave a legacy? To release our “little idea” to life? To build mastery and speak on stages?
If you’re having these silly thoughts…
I want you to know, they’re not silly. They’re your primal instincts.
And in a double-edged-sword kind of way, they will never stop whispering to you.
Sometimes the cage is real, but in this case? The cage is in your mind. It’s your superpower for rationalizing away your desires.
Call me crazy, but maybe it’s time to start rationalizing for our desires?
What do we think?
Could we make a case, in our own minds, for why it’s our duty as women to show the next generation of women an example of what’s possible?
Could we make it our duty to show the world what a relaxed woman looks like?
Could we make it our duty to prioritize our desires, build slow success, live with child-like wonder (and laughter) each day, and finally show the world through our success in this arena that there’s another way? That a business can still make money without caging cheetahs? That the world benefits more from our authority than our obedience?
I make it my duty every morning.
And great news is, those primal whispers have stopped.
I’m in the wild now. I get to live them, not just listen to them.