Here's something you probably wouldn't have guessed: I spend a lot of time with women.
There are some things I know to be true about women, and as much as generalizations can never be true about everyone, there are some statements I am comfortable making about "most" women: we are pack animals that excel in groups that we can be authentic in, we are holistic beings who don't tend to draw hard lines between different parts of life or work, and we are so much more than we sometimes think.
I love what I get to do, but sometimes it's hard to hear such amazing women be so critical of themselves.
I've heard women older than me say their thoughts or ideas aren't relevant anymore because of their age. I've heard younger women disclaim their abilities because they worried they were inexperienced. I've heard women fear they won't be successful due to factors like weight and physical appearance. And unfortunately, I've heard many women battle with guilt over their role as mother, wife, friend, business owner, and so on. Let me be clear that these fears and insecurities aren't coming from downtrodden, sad women. Usually these comments are said somewhat light-heartedly even, in a way that feels as though we're saying "If I draw attention to this, they can't use it against me."
Certainly, feelings of inadequacy aren't limited to women. Many men express these same sentiments with slightly varying vocabulary. However, there are- in my opinion- social scripts that largely contribute to these overall feelings that women may struggle with more so than men. As Sheryl Sandburg once illustrated, "How many men have been asked how they 'do it all'?" One or two men raise their hands. When she asks women this question, most reply with nods and raised hands.
Women are incredible creatures. We can calm a tense situation with a wise word or gesture, and stand up for what is right in the midst of objection because we know in our hearts that someone has to do it. Over the years, I've watched women come together who barely know each other, share their journeys, and build one another up with care and kindness. I've seen women in competing industries share their secrets with one another, for no good reason. I've witnessed these women in The OWN be better at community than anything I've ever experienced in another setting. Women amaze me every day with their tenacity, their strength, their intelligence, their softness, their openness, and their cunningness.
So let me remind you, if you're reading this, that you are simply amazing, and truly wonderful. You are more than your age. You are more than your weight. You are more than a collection of past mistakes or failures. You are human, and just like the rest of humans, you are figuring this out one day at a time. Society has often painted women as over-sexualized objects for consumption, but society was wrong. You have so much more to offer the world than a painted set of lips and a nice hairdo (not that those things are wrong), and if more women will be brave enough to live that truth out, we will create a more truthfully beautiful tomorrow.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey, and if we haven't yet met, let's remedy that!