No one can go it alone in life. Well, you can, if you want to live in a cave, but what fun would that be? We’ve all benefited from the help of others, whether we realize it or not. Maybe it was a teacher along the way that took extra time or care. A friend who saw you needed help and advocated for you, maybe at a time when you couldn’t stand up for yourself. Perhaps it was a boss or coworker that gave advice that led to a breakthrough. Or, if you’re really lucky, you’ve had a mentor that has taken you under their wing to help guide your life and flatten out steep learning curves. Take a second to think about it. What women have impacted your life and taught you to fly?
Often, we take these women who have helped us for granted. When we’re on the receiving end of getting help, it’s easy to ignore what others have done, feeling like we’ve fought the battle alone. Though, if you really look at it, there’s almost always someone in your corner, cheering you on, giving tangible aid, an opportunity, or even a different perspective. Sure, you did make whatever you accomplished happen – despite all the odds. But this is one of the ways we sabotage ourselves and take these women for granted. We think, “Weren’t they just doing their job?” But when you really think about it, what were the little actions that women around you took to open a door for you, or help you in such a selfless way, that maybe you haven’t noticed?
We also must learn to accept help. When I was younger, I wasn’t a “joiner.” I thought coming together in organized groups of women was so uncool. I’d learned a lot about this from my experiences in Girl Scouts. While it was positive in so many ways, being in that troop showed me the mean side of what groups of girls can do. Competition between women is fierce! I became used to thinking that if I wanted to accomplish something, I had to do it on my own. That life comes with rivalry. That when it comes to fight/flight/freeze, I’m going to pick fight every time, whether it works or not. So, accepting help became difficult, as it was hard to trust that true help was really coming. I believe this has held me back in ways in can’t even fathom. Fortunately, I learned differently a long time ago, but it’s still easier for me to give help than to trust accepting it. I’m still working on that. Are there ways you could be better at accepting help?
As an adult, I’ve become a “joiner,” though I am particular about where I spend my time and energy, and who I want to work with. I want to engage with women who have similar visions and philosophies that guide us to put in the hard work, because what we accomplish together is important. I want to work with women who appreciate my passion, bravado, and candor and have the communication skills and hutzpah to have lively discussions. We don’t always have to agree. We’re not going to get along with everyone. That’s okay. We can still lift each other up and make a difference in the community.
Rather than competing, what if we could come together to make things better for all women? Channel our competitive fierceness toward a real opponent, instead of each other? All too often, I see women fighting each other, rather than coming together, even when all parties have the same goals. We have so much to learn about working together. The only way we’re going to get better is by coming together and focus on lifting each other up, even if it means being taken for granted. We must come together and help each other, not fight against each other and let other people drive us apart by looking at our differences, rather than what we can accomplish together.
We need more women in leadership positions. The patriarchy isn’t going to become more generous towards women, and suddenly create laws that help and protect us. In fact, we’re seeing the opposite happen. The progress that’s been achieved in making women’s lives better, has been because of women. As more women are in leadership positions and are speaking their truth, the more solutions we’ll see. And since no one can get there on their own, we have to help each other. Let women know when you see the good work they’re doing in the community. Offer to help, mentor and volunteer. If you’re in a leadership position or in the position to recommend people for projects, consider helping worthy women reach their potential. There are so many ways we can help each other.
Of course, things often get worse before they get better. We may find the world getting more sexist, in retaliation for taking a stand. It seems the progress we’re making in the Me Too! Movement has become another excuse for discrimination. This will take time to change, so we need to be in more positions of power and lead the way. We must show the world how women can work with men – not let men dictate what the rules will be.
I know we can do this. Watching women at the Finishing School for Modern Women classes come together to connect, exchange ideas, solve problems, work on ourselves and laugh is powerful. Magic happens when we come together. Think about the women, recognized and recognized, that impacted your life and helped you along the way. What will you do to pass on their legacy? What will you do to lift women up?