Well #womened does it again! Across the ocean women are uniting to build themselves and each other up through unconferences, workshops, gatherings and book clubs. Following along on Twitter sometimes all I want to do is pack a bag and book a flight. In fact next summer I may just turn a vacay into attending some of these events or at least meeting some of the inspirational leaders living in the UK.
Today at Aureus School hosted by the lovely @TheHopefulHT Hannah Wilson, there was an event called Breaking the Mould and it looked amazing just from what was shared on Twitter. Various women leaders (not all in education – how refreshing!)talked about how they “broke the mould” and entered leadership. These journeys are all unique, except in the fact it seems, the women all shared a sense of not fitting in. Of course I may be making assumptions, not my intent, but I sensed this theme across the tweets. I think I pretty much excel at not fitting in and my personal challenge was to write a blog reflecting on my journey using this lens.
First – I have understood my entire life that I do not fit in – BUT have spent 48 (gulp) years trying to. SAD state of affairs. The journey has been messy but it started out alright!
The above picture shows clearly an early power pose. On some level I have known exactly who I was. I have always felt though that she/me was not worthy enough, not smart enough, heaven forbid not thin enough – never enough. Some of these messages came from family but I long ago stopped blaming them. They were products of a time and culture that believed the lies and messages and knew no better – they hadn’t broken their own moulds. I have spent my lifetime until recently trying to believe in a paradigm, trying to fit into a paradigm that would be easier, more accepted, valued, rewarded. The older I got,the less it fit, the harder it was for me to accept for myself. I found myself wanting to return to that little 3 year old with the power pose. That little kid knew who she was! There have been sparks of her for sure, but I feel her more and more and it has come with time.
I have learned a great deal over the last decade about truth, vulnerability, acceptance and reconciliation. Through the war with mental illness, addiction – fighting with my truth as a lesbian woman – I have come to a place where I know that these were all defense mechanisms I employed to fit in. Thing is even when I appeared just like everyone else I was not. I don’t know the magic words to give to someone fighting their truth – except the truth will always reveal itself. Difference is a teacher (Hannah Gadsby) and vulnerability is a strength (Queer Eye)Who we really are is our superpower and there is tremendous value and worth in just that. Say those magic words over and over it does become your ethos.
What do we do when we don’t fit in? Well, simply we don’t fit in! I have found or maybe they found me – #womened. I have blogged before about my gratitude to these women but they are a solution. Each has a journey that connects us to each other and the real wonder is that the tribe is a bunch of women who don’t fit the mould AND the group still works! There seems to be no ego wars, no alienation, no discrimination or exclusion. That is some Harry Potter wave shaking, incantation shouting magic there.
For me I still struggle with worth – but less so. I still use humor to deflect and keep people at a distance. Some of the trick is acknowledging what I am doing and allowing people to see the broad scope of who I am as a woman,person, leader. I have maintained some good, good friends when in the past I might have let them slip away. I joined Twitter for goodness sake, and participate in and follow other courageous people sharing their journey. Every day I try to open the door a little wider and let people see me for who I am. Yes, some days I do not want to and don’t, but there is always a lesson there and sometimes a loss.
So much is to be gained, won, enhanced, improved, conquered when we are ourselves. Surround yourself with others who struggle and who have won – let them in, accept who you see in the mirror and share that with the world. Not everyone will see the same – these people are on their own journey and may not yet have the courage to be who they are. Let these people go if they do not want to embrace truth.
I want to hug everyone in #womened (and I have spent my life telling myself that I am not a hugger) because they have impacted my life in such a powerful way. They are like a map that each of us can use to find her true self. Let them be your map.
Thanks for reading!