Freedom and the question of gender

Boy or girl?

Anna Cley
4 min readMar 9, 2021


When I was a little girl, I sometimes dreamed I was a little boy. I would wake up shocked and unsettled, wondering what was wrong with me. I was far from being a tom boy though. I loved the romantic Disney movies and my Barbie dolls. Yet I had a strong wish for both freedom and safety that my being a girl took away from me. My favorite tale, however, was The Little Prince and I related to this character a lot more than any princess of any tale.

In my little girl’s mind, being a girl was preventing me from choosing my life and going on adventures. It made me feel trapped. First, I did not feel safe to be a girl. It made me vulnerable because of my body’s configuration, so easily attackable by the other sex. Therefore, I was conditioned to conform to authority. Second, I was also conditioned to satisfy other’s expectations before mine. It took away from me the freedom to imagine my life and to dream my future.

It may seem contradictory when you realize that I earned my degree in aerospace engineering because it’s known to be a male dominated industry. In fact, I was not at liberty to choose my path at the time. My becoming an engineer was my father’s desire and I was terrified of this man until I reached 25 years old.

At 25, I finally unchained myself and started my journey toward my true self. Craving for meaning, I began volunteering in a hospital for children on Sundays. I quit my engineering job a year later. At 29, I left my country with a suitcase and a backpack because my soul was dying from following other’s paths and it was the only way I could survive. The greatest adventure of my life had started. I felt free to be myself and at home for the first time in my life. I was breathing for the first time ever.

Living the dream in Niagara Falls, September 2017

In March 2014, as I traveled alone through the cold and beautiful winter of Canada, I had a vision. I received a story, “The Journey of the Heart”. A story of self-discovery, freedom and love featuring a girl, Mylandra, and her masculine counterpart, Unique. The name Mylandra came to me both mysteriously and obviously. I never fathomed where it came from, but it made a lot of sense to me. Mylandra encompasses the Greek root “Andros” for man and warrior. It represented the cry for freedom in my core. Interestingly someone told me recently that she saw “My land” in Mylandra. It’s so obvious, yet I was totally clueless! It’s fascinating how our subconscious finds ways to communicate with our conscious mind.

Expecting a child makes me wonder what kind of parent I will be. Whether it’s a son or a daughter, it will be a very different experience for me. The little girl I was didn’t have good models to find her place in the world. There were fundamental gaps in my education. As such, I envision myself teaching what I learned on my journey to womanhood to a daughter. But guiding a son to manhood seems more challenging to me. For the same reasons that I struggled with being a girl, I believe many men struggle with the expectations put on little boys.

No matter what, our generation has a duty to do the work and break the repetitive patterns we all carry. Finding yourself, either as a woman or as a man, is an intense journey, regardless.

Source: Pixabay

To move forward and heal our world, the key attribute I see is compassion. Compassion for the women and men around us. More importantly, compassion for ourselves. I dream of a world where both women and men embrace their own beauty. Where we’re not dominant but empowered. Where we’re not powerful but inspiring. Where we feel good and fulfilled in our soul.

International Women’s day and Women’s history month are not just the recognition of women’s battles since the beginning of time. It’s a call to humanity to look at each other with more compassion, love and respect. It’s the hope that men and women team up to create peace and joy together on this planet. It’s a reminder to be gentle and compassionate to each other.

Wherever you are today, take a moment to celebrate the beauty of life with someone you care about.

The Journey of the Heart will be released on May 11, 2021. Stay tuned!

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Anna Cley

Creative writer, interdisciplinary artist | Immersive storytelling