Let Bossy Girls and Sensitive Boys Change The World

photo courtesy of Joseph Gonzalez, Unsplash

Admit it. You were either a bossy girl or a sensitive boy.* And, of course, you were more than that. Much more.

But, girls. You had opinions. You knew how the games were played and expected everyone to follow your lead. To do it right. You read all the books voraciously. The library was your happy place. You knew what you knew. Didn’t everyone want to learn the correct way to play hopscotch? And chess? Didn’t your teachers need you to correct their spelling errors? You couldn’t help but express your intellectual enthusiasm.

They said you were bossy. And you were. But this was not a bad thing.

We need more bossy girls.

And boys. You had big emotions. Tears. Meltdowns. Your empathy was deep. You had trouble adhering to the boy code. The pressure to be tough, cool. To squelch your enthusiasm for learning. Your parents were confused because you were multiplying numbers in your head and were so darned articulate. How could you be so smart yet so immature? But you weren’t immature. Your sensitivities were as vast as your intellect. You felt great sadness for hurt children and for endangered animals. You were soft-hearted.

They said you were immature. Not manly enough. They were wrong.

We need more sensitive boys.

Now, I know, my darlings. You are not so bossy anymore. Not so emotional or empathetic. There has been so much pressure to not be you.

But that’s why I’m here.

And it is time.

Time to get your bossy on. Time to express your emotions and empathy again.

Because with your bossy, with your sensitivities, with your trust in your true self, you can change the world.

Let’s change the world.


To my bloggEEs: Were you a bossy girl or a sensitive boy? Tell us stories about your early days and how you have been able to trust yourself again or how you are struggling. And, by the way, I know it is the holiday season. So I’m sending you this post to help you make it through, if it is a difficult or lonely time. Much love to you all.

(*maybe you were/are nonbinary, but that’s a topic for a future post…)

(Note: Of course, you all know that our gifted girls are also highly sensitive and empathetic. But this was not the focus of this post. Just in case any of you were wondering.)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

17 responses to “Let Bossy Girls and Sensitive Boys Change The World”

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  1. Cari Avatar

    Bossy girl here, all grown up and (naturally), still being bossy. It generally works out okay working as a professional in a male-dominated field. It did not work in elementary school, not at all.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      We love bossy girls!!

  2. Sarah Avatar

    And what happens when the bossy girl marries the sensitive boy? Most of the time, it’s great, and they have amazing rainforests kids, and when they’re are with the girl’s family it’s ok, because everyone in her family is used to her.

    But when they are with his family it’s a disaster because they are from a more traditional culture, where women are less outspoken and opinionated, at least with men. And the family challenges her—often—and instead of deferring to the ‘greater knowledge’ of the men, she stands up for her ideals and her culture, while her sensitive husband writhes in uncomfortable emotions.

    And then they get home and she’s upset with him because “they” have attacked her again, tried to put her in her place, and she actually feels terrible because she’s a pleaser at heart and craves harmony, but she just can’t agree with ideas that go against her principles…while he just let it happen, didn’t defend her, pretended he didn’t know it was happening.

    He admits he’s not sure what to say when the drama unfolds, which is honest, but not helpful. Especially after 20 years of the same.

    Then the next morning at an early breakfast, while the kids are sleeping in, she gets an email, which she reads to him while both of them tear up and gain just a little more understanding, and maybe hope to go on with this holiday season and this relationship.

    Thank you

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Oh, Sarah. Thank you for this beautiful example. <3

  3. unschoolingNL Avatar

    It is fantastic that you are here. Every single time you find the words to give inspiration, or courage. And this one is a great article for teenagers to read. Thank you!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you! I think many of my posts (most of them?) are good for teens. 🙂

  4. Eren Avatar

    This is me and my brother to a T! I was always bossy, direct, and to the point (still am). My brother is a soft hearted gentle giant who would cry at the pain of others (including me).
    My dad tried to strip that from us. He tried to force me to be a docile woman and my brother to be a “stronger” man. That’s just not who we are.
    And because of this, we both have such bad anxiety and stress at ourselves.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I hope you and your brother can feel more self-acceptance, Eren, as you understand the traits that often come with a rainforest mind. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Vane Avatar

    ¿Que si era mandona? Hoy en día aún algunos me lo recuerdan….y un cliente muy cariñosamente justo hoy me lo ha dicho!!!. y JUSTO leo éste articulo.
    Me encantaba organizar juegos en mis cumpleaños para que todos estuvieramos juntos y ocupados. En otros juegos no podía evitar inventarme reglas para que fueran más emocionantes. Cuando fui estudiante incumplía las normas, lógicamente a veces causándome problemas en la escuela pero cuando inicié mis estudios en diseño, el dar un camino alternativo al propuesto me solía funcionar positivamente. Hoy en día tengo un trabajo creativo y me dedico entre otros, a gestionar, organizar y dirigir mi propia empresa de diseño y construcción.
    …Y si, siempre me he sentido feliz en las bibliotecas, su olor, su orden, su silencio y el tener tanta información al alcance es gratificante.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I don’t speak Spanish but I put this into Google translate. Thank you for sharing your personal examples, Vane!

  6. simplywendi Avatar

    I was not a bossy girl as a child but I have raised bossy girls and a sensitive boy and super proud of this!!!! 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Good job, simplywendi! Thanks for sharing.

      1. simplywendi Avatar

        thank you………I didn’t want them to be raised how I was so hopefully this will work out in the long run! 🙂

  7. veroniqz Avatar

    Sad, isn’t it? Being an outcast, not allowed to have an opinion, to know what you know, or try to do things right? It took me a long, long time to find out why people considered me bossy, while I was just trying to help and do the best I could.
    People like you, Paula, are so important to regain trust and find my true self… because I still wish to change the world! 😊

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      The world needs us to keep up the hope and the spirit to create positive change. You can do it, veroniqz!

  8. Ian Avatar

    Not sure if you’ve seen the article, but Maria Popova (who you mention in at least one of your books) wrote an article referring to research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggesting that “psychological androgyny” is essential for creativity, and recurred a lot in the famous innovators of the past. https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/07/psychological-androginy-creativity-csikszentmihalyi/ And indeed, a common upshot of “psychological androgyny” is what many people perceive as bossy girls and sensitive boys.

    I have a lot of experience with this, as I was often singled out as unusually sensitive compared with other boys, most of my closest male friends have also tended to be inclined this way, and interestingly most of my closest female friends have been towards the “bossy girl” side of the spectrum. It’s as if women are expected to be X, men are expected to be Y, and I am inclined to be a mix of both X and Y and to “meet in the middle” with people who are similarly inclined, regardless of their biological sex.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the link, Ian, and for sharing your perspective..