A few days ago, I posted a quote that read, "When women support each other, incredible things happen." Author, unknown.
It generated a lot of likes, but it got me thinking, when it comes down to it, I wonder how many of us are practicing what we preach? We live in an era of alleged “girl power.” We’re all marching for it and buying the t-shirts, but where’s the beef, so to speak, of this sentiment? In day to day life, are we holding one another up? Are we celebrating one another's successes?
Aside from a very select group of self assured friends, I'm not feeling it. I don't even know if I'm doing it.
What I'm seeing, in my world, are a lot of women going it alone, afraid to share their inner demons, not wanting to be a burden, and therefore not having the energy to be supportive to others, except through a sporadic thumbs up to an Instagram or Facebook post. There’s an unprecedented independence amongst our generation. Are we afraid of being perceived as weak or inept? Do we just plain not know how to reach out?
A friend can act as a caliper by which to measure our own challenges. Someone in your tribe has suffered similar strife or been privy to others who have, and their outside, dispassionate perspective can often be the clearest. Looking to peers for judgment and guidance, or allowing help when I'm ready to throw my hands up in the air, has proven to be incredibly instrumental for me. I tend towards self-reliance, but in recent years, I’ve allowed the personal vulnerability of asking for help or opinions, or just someone to vent to. My life operates more smoothly because of it. My marriage is stronger, because I have people to help me gauge the fine line of my own bullshit.
When we’re lost in our own worlds, alone and grappling with life stressors, can we even feel joy for other women’s accomplishments? Does the mirror that holds up reflect back an uncomfortable inadequacy? When we see another woman tapping into her own personal power and purpose, how do we feel about ourselves? Get real for a minute. Realize that there are times when your own perceived deficits are keeping you from being truly supportive. Allow yourself to notice that exists within you. It's there for most of us. Don’t shame it away; it's normal, human. We relate other’s experiences back to our own, and if there is an emotion of lacking within us, it may be inhibitory to our ability to truly extol others. When I'm suffering a scarcity in the fulfillment department, seeing others thriving can sometimes create a twinge of jealousy. That's a subtle tap on the shoulder for me, a reminder that it's time to search out more purpose in my life.
On paper, we’re all hardcore feminists, but it's time to ante up and legitimate those claims in our day to day dealings with one another.
-Do for others, even when you don't feel like it, or don't think you have the time. I've come to realize that being “busy” is a bullshit excuse that lends itself to a feeling of importance. I've used it plenty. But really, it’s just a matter of priorities. We’ve got the time, how do we want to spend it.
-Ask questions. Really get in there. Border on being nosy. If you've pushed too far, it will be immediately apparent, but there's a good chance you'll open up a dialogue that needed to be spoken. Women need to talk. We need to share, it’s cathartic. It's how we learn about ourselves. Saying words aloud is so much more powerful than just thinking them. Not only does asking pointed questions lend itself to intimate communication, but it sends the message that you care, and you're willing to be there when they do need to talk.
-If your friend is looking particularly lovely one day, tell her! Every. Damn. Time. Don't hold praise in. It may seem trivial, but no one is immune to the power of flattery. We can ride the wave of an off handed, seemingly minuscule compliment, for weeks or sometimes years to come. I still have little one liners, from decades ago, tucked away in my brain, that bring a smile to my face.
-If a friend or acquaintance has pulled off something that you know was a challenge, bask in their glory with them! Celebrate them, and use it as inspiration for yourself, instead of as a means for self judgment.
-Chances are, your peers have more insight than you think they do. Don't be obtuse and believe that you're the end all, be all for every obstacle in your life. Ask for help, ask for guidance, ask to talk. Humans want to feel useful. It bonds us to one another. We’re losing our sense of community in this digital world full of cyber friends. Work on cultivating your tribe and becoming part of other’s tribes. The seeds you plant will grow into trees with roots that bind and commingle in ways that hold firm in the strongest of storms.