Creating space when a woman’s compassion is lost in the structure of society

By Vanessa Ferlaino, author of “Human”

Walk down any magazine or book aisle, and you will be confronted by all of what women are made to believe we are not; “be brave”, “be compassionate”, even “be you”. This is especially true of business publications where there is an assumption that women in business need or want more education, even when these women are already very accomplished in their respective fields.

The bias of language often leads women to believe that we are devoid of these qualities. Being told “to be brave,” “to be vulnerable,” “to be confident”, basing these assumptions on a set of criteria, as if we are not. “If you do ‘x’, you are brave,” when in reality we ARE.

The power we hold as women is astonishing and should be met with tremendous gratitude by all. We bring life into the world; there is no greater power. But the constructs of society have made us forget this. We are forced into a system that consistently tries to tell us who we can and cannot be, and on top of that, neglects our emotions and the burdens that biologically comes with being a woman. We are powerful, but society has made us afraid of this power so we deny ourselves that right to appease others who often reprimand us when we live our truths or attempt to reclaim it. 

That, in itself, should be enough to garner compassion for ourselves and our womanhood. 

We are all compassionate, we’re just not always aware of it. Whenever we stand up for ourselves, or speak our truth, we can feel the tenseness of the jaw, the butterflies in the stomach… We are aware of the physiological manifestation of our feelings, but we don’t stick around with it. We don’t sit with it; we don’t explore it. We find the quickest way to comfort it, dismiss it, or even shut it down, instead of spending time acknowledging why we feel that way, and then responding to that feeling with love or compassion. 

Whatever we feel should be completely welcome in our bodies. The more time we make to address all of what we feel, and why we feel that way, and how we can nurture those feelings, we create space within our bodies to be whoever we want to, and need to be, for ourselves.

Being human is about acknowledging all that we are, as it is what makes us, us. 

That’s what my book “Human” is about. It’s not a self-help book, as there are no tips. It is a story, a series of events, that you experience as if they are your own. Going through trauma, loss, and abusive relationships, I make reflections and observations of the human condition. It is meant to remind us to be aware of what is happening around us and to deconstruct what we know of the world, so we can open our hearts to ourselves and to others.

It’s vivid. It’s vulnerable. It’s authentic.

And it’s true.

Because that’s what #beinghuman is all about — being true to you.


Vanessa Ferlaino is the author of “Human”, a personal story about the human condition in an individualistic society. As an avid medtech and tech investor, innovator, and executive, her artistry kept her grounded whenever the world tried to define her by gender, ethnicity, cultural roots, or the norms of society’s structured framework. Finding her voice through acting training and craft as a self-taught pianist and vocalist, Vanessa believes in the power of creative expression to strengthen human connection. For more inspiration about #beinghuman, check out her instagram @vanessaferlaino. “Human” is available on Amazon Canada and USA, as well as select Chapters Indigo locations across Canada.

Photography Credit: Deven Creagh Photography