Meghan Markle: Moving Forward Versus Being “Given Away”

I was among millions of people last week who were obsessed with the wedding of Prince Harry of Wales and American actress Meghan Markle.

The wedding was beautiful and had meaning beyond what I’d originally expected. It was a cultural event, and even though it was seen by millions, it was the intimate story of two people who found one another and fell in love.

My favorite moment of the day wasn’t the reveal of the dress.

It wasn’t Prince Harry lifting her veil.

It wasn’t the first kiss outside the chapel.

My favorite moment is in the photo above.

Meghan Markle — a woman with her own proud personhood, history, confidence, wonder and grace, walked into her future, and was unencumbered by being “given away.”

Yes, Prince Charles met her halfway, but it was more like a “welcome to our family” walk to his son versus man relinquishing a woman to another man.

I love that.

Even though I was “given away” by my father and brothers in that same “joining of families” spirit, there’s a part of me that wishes I’d taken part of that walk down the aisle on my own.

The whole “giving away the bride” construct has a sweetness to it mixed with tradition these days, but it’s also tied into a time when women had no agency and were transferred like property from one man’s family to another.

I love the idea of us moving along the aisle of life in our own right — even if we’re feeling unsure, lonely or even afraid.

We might also feel excited, proud and confident.

I’ve been talking with some women lately about the idea of hanging back or “playing small” in their lives because it’s scary to move forward.

The status quo seems to feel safe and non-threatening. It’s comfortable.

And you know what?

Comfortable is cool sometimes. I think it gets a bad wrap, as though we all have to have these massive aspirations to “kill it,” “crush it” and leap into all of the bigger opportunities that stand before us. And quickly.

Wouldn’t it be easier if someone else would just choose and give us away to the next step we’re supposed to take?

Or how about this: What if we could stand on our own light like the Duchess of Sussex is in that photo.

She’s not being given to someone or something.

She is moving towards something.

She’s not running, either.

She’s walking.

Step by step by step.

Wherever you are in life — whether it has to do with your job, a relationship, your body or any other crossroads or decision — you get to decide how to move forward.

Don’t wait for someone to give you the answers or give you away to something because you think they know better than you or you’re not moving quickly enough.

Take your time.

Walk on your own.

Make simple and significant steps that could eventually turn into strides.

If and when it’s time to blow things up and make it big, you can. And you can also take your time and enjoy the space you’re in while you learn more about who you are and what you’re doing.

Meghan Markle, step by step, made her way down the aisle of acting and performing and landed a TV show on a cable network — no playing small with that; but it seems like she was both comfortable there and also had room to stretch and grow because she played her role for several seasons.

She showed up for years and developed her craft.

Due to the circumstances of falling in love with a prince, she was faced with the decision of stepping onto a bigger stage that meant she’d need to leave acting behind for a life of duty within the royal family.

Her new life won’t be all about remarkable clothes and weekends at Balmoral; she’s shifting her focus to both her marriage and her philanthropic work, which she will no doubt give herself to in a much larger sense than she did before her marriage.

No one gave her away to this bigger stage of duchess-ness and work around women’s empowerment and other world issues; she has taken her own steps towards it.

Move forward on your terms and in your own time.

You don’t always need to move forward in big bursts and leaps. You don’t need give yourself away to the “shoulds” of how fast things should grow or develop.

By the same token, when it’s time to open yourself up to something bigger, someone else doesn’t need to give you permission or give you away to it.

Take your time.  

Make the move on your own, bathed in your own light and confidence.

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