Today has a theme, and the theme is hard-core women power. Everywhere I look today, its been in my face. Now, I'm a big believer in 'everything happens for a reason' - I don't sit around navel-gazing trying to figure it all out, but I'm open to the fact that the reason will reveal itself when I'm ready to see it. So, the reason for all this awesome, uplifting fem-power in my day? It was preparing me to take a BIG dose of medicine...
I recently had a late-night, wine-fuelled conversation with a friend, in which I said some things that were really hurtful to her. I didn't say mean things, but I spewed out some nonsense that was really unsupportive of her life choices (which you can read about here). Now this is someone I have been friends with my whole life, someone I love deeply and someone for whom I certainly do want the very best - So why, oh why do her completely valid and, to be frank, utterly delightful life choices bother me so much? I knew it wasn't her, even as I was saying those things, I knew they weren't about her. Really, the problem lies with me, and that is a bitter pill to swallow.
Every day we share inspiring talks and clever memes on Facebook, we've read the book, seen the movie and bought the t-shirt - we talk the talk, but do we walk the walk?
What I'm realising though, is that mostly it comes down to issues of my own self-worth and how I measure that. Even the fact that I want to be able to measure my worth, speaks volumes about how I value myself. Just because someone's choice wouldn't be right for me, does not make it wrong. Just because there are alternative choices they could make, does not make them better. Accepting the greyness and relativity of life is clearly a learning-curve I am still climbing. I think part of my struggle lies with the fact that I apparently need external validation. It's not that I want us to all look the same, but when my friends make similar life choices to the ones I have made, I feel validated. I have made some choice over the years that left me sitting out on a limb all by myself, and it can feel pretty cold and lonely out there - I don't like being cold or lonely. I guess it's all a matter of perspective - if I looked up, I would likely see my friend sitting out on her own branch - we are all pushing our own boundaries in some way. The trick seems to be to not allow our choices to divide us, but rather let our common goal of growth unite us.
Since I'm being brutally honest here, I will admit that there is also an element of jealousy. Jealousy at the fact that others can make the choices I wish I could make, and still feel good about themselves. I look at my friend's life and I wonder if she is hiding her true feelings. Is she doing all these activities to fill the void? Is she secretly depressed? Um, no - no she is not. She is truly happy and fulfilled, she is chasing her dreams, catching them and making them come freakin true! No, the person who was desperately filling the void, the person who was secretly depressed - that was me. When I took two years away from a formal 9 - 5 job (ah, yes - I've had my turn too), I was not happy. I wasn't bored, or sitting around doing nothing (anyone who thinks that SAHM's do nothing all day is retarded. That is all.), but I was not happy. I am jealous that she can be so happy doing the thing that made me so miserable. I will admit that perspective is important. She has embraced her "time off" with open arms and a glad heart, while I know I didn't bring the same lust for life and growth with me on my journey. And now that I'm older and wiser, and have a long list of all the things I would pursue given my liberty, I still fear that I would turn back into that sad little person without the sense of self-worth and formal validation I derive from my job and paycheck (however meager) at the end of each month. I hope not.
Really, I think my friend represents the next step in female evolution. She had the successful corporate career and she chose to move beyond that, to follow her dreams, not to allow herself or her sense of worth to be defined by "the man". She is making life-affirming choices on a daily basis and has taken real control of her life, without all the comforting structure that the formal employment sector offers. Her sense of self-worth comes from within and that is something to be celebrated. To me, she is the X-men of girl power, and when I grow up I hope to be a mutant too.