Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed, talks about her memoir in Brené Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us. Glennon shares how society has put women in a box, preventing them from becoming the greatest version of themselves. She also shares her personal experiences of breaking free of the mold and marrying a woman. Through untaming, women can build the life they want and not just the life they are told they should have.
Read this if...
- You're a woman
- You are interested in learning about feminism
- You are feeling trapped by society's standards and social constructs
Glennon Doyle is a New York Times bestselling author and activist. Most recently, she wrote and published her third memoir, Untamed. She is the founding president of Together Rising, a non-profit organization for women, children, and families in crises. She is now married to Olympic soccer player Abby Wambach.
the distilld lessons (extended)
The cheetah is the fastest land animal on the planet, but humans can condition even this majestic cat and tame it out of its wildness. Author Glennon Doyle uses this metaphor in her memoir, Untamed, to explain how people–women in particular–are put in a box, and dictated on who and what they’re supposed to be.
She also describes how to ‘untame’ oneself and unlearn all of society’s conditioning for women to be able to claim their individuality, embrace their significance, inspire others, let go of fear, and build lives that are truly their own.
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by the Glennon Doyle episode of the Unlocking Us with Brene Brown podcast:
1. Society’s expectations of women deny their individualism.
Expectations can affect identity. Growing up with expectations, dreams can fade into the background. Before we know it, we’re living our lives according to other people’s expectations instead of our own wishes. We may realize this, but we’re afraid to disrupt the status quo.
This is especially true for women—mothers, in particular. Mothers are expected to be selfless and set aside their careers and ambitions to care for their families. In Glennon’s case, she was unhappy in her first marriage. She knew she was unhappy but didn’t want to leave and hurt her child.
As a society, we hold women and mothers to certain standards. We don’t often consider them as individuals, and instead think of them as mothers or wives. We expect women to subscribe to these roles and find fulfillment, regardless of their personal goals.
When Glennon met and fell in love with her partner, former Olympic soccer player Abby Wambach, she shared in an interview that she was finally able to recognize herself. She considers being with Abby a milestone because this meant that she abandoned other people’s expectations of her. She could finally honor herself. Glennon emphasizes that women can free themselves and choose to listen to their own voices. She is telling us that we can live for ourselves and not just for others.
2. Women’s contributions are significant.
As tamed individuals, women have believed for so long that what they want should align with what others want. They’ve been led to believe that following their own pursuits could come at the price of the happiness of others. The truth is, when women are allowed to pursue their own desires, they realize their own capabilities. They make positive and significant contributions and even effect change in their communities.
Glennon, for example, has led online fundraising efforts that has helped amputees, refugees, and people suffering from drug addiction. By writing books, she has inspired a lot of people, especially those who are recovering alcoholics and suffering eating disorders.
Writing about marriage, motherhood, friendship, and self-acceptance, she has helped countless women. Through her words, Glennon was able to show people that they are not alone. By sharing her life, people can see that struggle is a natural part of life and that they can take the lessons they learn and become better people.
Seeing the success and achievement of women like Glennon, we know how women can flourish when not locked into fixed ideals. When we see women be themselves and make their dreams a reality, we can see that we can also do it for ourselves.
3. Women taking charge of their lives can inspire others.
Women need to be ‘untamed’ in order to be truly free. This means challenging the norms they’ve been taught since childhood. Glennon experienced this liberation firsthand. After her divorce, she married a woman. Although this was against people’s expectations, it made her happy. Through her second marriage, Glennon allowed herself to acknowledge her own desires. This inspired her own son to come out. When this happened, her ex-husband was relieved for Glennon’s courage to be true to herself because it helped their son find the courage to do the same.
When a woman embraces her authentic self and acts upon it, she can inspire others to do the same. Women have strong presence at home and in society. Their actions have influence on the people around them. What women do have impact on their family, communities, and even greater society. When Glennon shared her personal experiences through her books, this gave people courage to take action in their own lives. Even pop star Adele shared that reading Glennon’s Untamed made her want to take control of her own happiness and freedom.
4. It’s difficult, but necessary, for women to let go of fear.
Untaming isn’t easy for women and this can worry their loved ones. Glennon’s mother was worried about her choices. She was afraid that her daughter’s divorce, coming out, and eventual marriage to a woman might be too much of a departure from who she knew Glennon to be.
Glennon recognized this fear as unhealthy for her kids. She decided that her mother couldn’t go to her home—her family’s ‘island’—as long as she carries this fear. She didn’t want her kids to see that their grandmother is afraid, and then see that there’s something to fear about how they lived their lives.
It’s difficult for women especially to detach themselves from people they love. But sharing familial or friendly ties does not guarantee similarity in ideas. When family or friends hold values different from ours, forcing ourselves to change for them is not the answer. We could lose sight of who we are, and it could cost us our own happiness and fulfillment.
It may be terrifying to put ourselves first, but it’s worth the risk. When we focus on ourselves, we can build the life that we want. We can be free from society’s expectations. We can embrace our significance. We can take charge and inspire others. We can reject fear. We can be true to ourselves—untamed, like the majestic cheetah.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.