Melissa The Creative

Embrace creativity. Live purposefully.

What A Woman Can Be She Must Be


Have you ever felt frustrated with your life for no apparent reason? Have you maybe been restless? Experienced discontent? Felt anxious? Antsy? Do you ever feel like you don’t have any room in your daily existence to just breathe? Or have you been desiring a certain fulfilment or satisfaction that your great job/loving partner/supportive family/beloved children just cannot give you?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, and even after she was born, I experienced a deep-seated feeling of unrest. I felt like it penetrated right down to my very being. I had just gotten married and my husband was going above and beyond to make me happy, my relationships with friends and family were great, and I was growing spiritually, but still this feeling persisted. I sometimes felt really guilty for this emotional state I had seemingly no control over – I didn’t want my husband to think I was an ungrateful twat.

I think it was in high school where I learned about Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. It was first introduced in his 1943 paper, A Theory Of Human Motivation, and then fully established in his 1954 book, Motivation and Personality.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy, there are five levels or areas of human need:

  1. Physiological – basic needs like food, water, and shelter for survival;
  2. Safety – personal and financial security, and health;
  3. Love/belonging – the need to love, be loved, and establish healthy relationships with other people;
  4. Esteem – the need to be accepted and valued by others (and, more importantly, by oneself); and
  5. Self-actualisation – the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.

Maslow calls the first four levels of need, ‘deficiency needs.’ When your physiological need is unmet, you experience the physical side-effects of that deficiency. When your safety, your need for love and belonging, and/or your esteem is compromised, the result is anxiety, and tension.

But Maslow goes on to say that even if all these deficiencies are fulfilled, i.e. you’re fed, comfortable, safe, loved, accepted, and valued, you may still (if not always) expect that ‘a new discontent and restlessness will soon develop.’ He attributes these feelings to an individual not doing what he is, ‘fitted for,’ or meant to do. He says it best himself:

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy.

I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron during two of my ‘periods of unrest.’ It’s a 12-week creative recovery course that points to our yearning to express our gifts – or self-actualise. The course helped me tremendously and it was a relief to discover I didn’t have a black hole of dissatisfaction in my soul, my feelings were the manifestation of my very real, very human need to realise my potential and fulfil my purpose. To do what I was gifted to do – which was to write. Back to Maslow:

What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualisation.

What desires are causing you unrest in your own life? What do you secretly wish you could do? Play an instrument? Garden? Take beautiful photos? Be a stay-at-home parent? Work with kids? And what’s holding you back? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your answers.


4 comments on “What A Woman Can Be She Must Be

  1. Amy Brown
    December 1, 2014

    What do you do when you have an unbearable urge to travel and spread your wings? That’s where I am. I have such an intense itch to travel, as I’ve never left Cape Town and am starting to feel stifled, that I’ve said to Duane that I need to get out of here else I’m going to be miserable. Have such a feeling of unrest!

    • MelissaTheCreative
      December 1, 2014

      You should definitely scratch that itch! I truly believe we have yearnings for a reason, and when we fulfil our yearnings awesome things happen. Phone a travel agent. Like yesterday. 🙂

  2. Nikki J
    December 2, 2014

    A really good read. I do believe many of us have unsettling moments. And some last longer than others. I think we go through phases in life and with each phase comes unsettling moments. It is finding that outlet to quell it before it becomes destructive.

  3. Bronwyn
    May 12, 2015

    A great read and definitely applicable to so many woman and men out there. Without purpose we wonder around with no true satisfaction in life. It is so important to discover our purpose in life. I hope to find mine soon.

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