Dear Lovely Woman,
LastÂ week, as a part of International Womanâ€™s Day, I reposted a coupleÂ versions of aÂ familiarÂ statement on my Facebook page. The first: â€œBehind every successful woman is another woman.â€ For many, I’m sure the word ‘man’ could be inserted to make it an equally true statement.Â The second one states,Â â€œBehind every successful woman is herself.â€
So which is it? Self or others? Is our success, or confidence, based on ourselves alone or do others play a role? As simple as this Â sounds, we need to start living as if both have equal value.
The truth is, we need self-esteem, self-worth and all those other self-hyphenated words in order to walk confidently into theÂ day. And it’s equally true thatÂ we canâ€™t make it through this life alone. Even Batman, in The Lego Batman Movie, discovered the need forÂ friends and family. If a super hero needsÂ his peeps, regular people certainly benefit from aÂ crew, a team, or a tribe.
The dichotomy of self-relianceÂ and reliance on others was demonstrated to me long ago when our family moved to aÂ farm in Iowa. As city kids, we didnâ€™t know much about animals, life or the benefits of struggle. When the first batch of baby chicks were readyÂ to hatch, we got excited aboutÂ the miracle of chicken birth.
If you haveÂ never witnessed a chick hatching from its egg, hereâ€™s what happens: you hear the pecking (pipping) and see bits of shell Â crack and lift; the egg is moving. The chick is really working toÂ get out of that confined space.Â This goes on for quite a while; sometimes 24 hours. WhenÂ sheÂ finally escapes,Â she’s a curled-up wetÂ mess.
Being from a helping family, Len, my brother and I ‘helped’ a chick by removing bits of shell. We only did this once. We didn’tÂ knowÂ thatÂ in order for the bird to survive,Â sheÂ needs to struggleÂ her way out of the shell. Maybe the old saying, â€œWhatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,â€ refers to thisÂ oddity of nature.
Maybe this isn’t an odd event,Â but the normal way of the world. Maybe struggle, any struggle, Â isÂ an initiation ceremony to build strength and prepare for the life ahead. If you can’t make it out here,Â you aren’t going to makeÂ it there or anywhere.
A successfulÂ independent birth leaves the chick dry, fluffy and looking for its peeps, its family.
Just like us, its family can be theÂ flesh and blood relatives or others who nurture us.Â Science classifies family as those creatures with significant shared characteristics. How many times have we told someone close to us, “You’re just like family”?
It didn’t take Scott, my youngest son, long to feel comfortable in hisÂ new state when he started school at ASU in Tempe. I joked that he had â€œfound his tribe,â€ and when I saw pictures of him with the group, they all looked likeÂ brothers.
When reflecting about the family you started with, you might have some regrets. They say,Â â€œItâ€™s hard to get over a good startâ€”or a bad one.â€ Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s completely true.Â Donâ€™t we all know people who are successful in spite of and because of the struggles they had with theirÂ family? AllÂ families are somewhat dysfunctional, yet it’s possibleÂ to breakÂ out of that shell andÂ thrive.
Your birth family, or the peeps you choose to take on family roles,Â serve you in many ways. They are foundational to your confidence.
Here are the seven reasons to consider:
Share theÂ ups and downs ofÂ life. They will take your call at any time of the day or night.Â Â You have history together andÂ donâ€™t have to explain your backstory. You also donâ€™t need to pretend to beÂ anything but yourself; they know too much.Â They have dancedÂ the happy dance with you, and have also let you cry on their shoulder. They keep you going.
Tell you the truth. Most people are not invested enough in youÂ to tell you that your eye shadow is old fashioned or youâ€™ve gotten a bit negative lately. The relationship is strong enough to withstand unpleasant conversations, and especially if messages areÂ given with a small bit of kindness.
Tell you the ideal truth. After trying something new, like a dance, a musicalÂ instrument or a new speech, itâ€™s lovely to haveÂ someone in your corner say, â€œI amÂ soÂ proud of Â you!” In your heart you know you can do better, yet sometimes hearing the realÂ truth when you’re just beginning, devastates your desire to getÂ back on the horse. Yes, this kind of truthÂ is the oppositeÂ of the truth of #2; yet Iâ€™ve found that there are legitimate times when the truth does not set you free. It robs you of future competence and confidence.
Lend you a hand, money or advice. For those taxing jobs, the kind that you can’t even pay someone to do, or you’re too broke to pay, thatâ€™s when your peeps are there to give you help.Â Sometimes money is what you need. Paying the money back is aÂ story for another time,Â but family and those like familyÂ step forward when others run away. They also give their opinion. Sometimes unsolicitedÂ and sometimes unappreciated, yet our peepsÂ feel obligatedÂ to speak up.
TakeÂ your side. Where thereâ€™s a difference of opinionÂ or a fight, your tribe takes your side. SometimesÂ they also take you aside toÂ ask what in the heck you were thinking, but even squabbling siblingsÂ and true friends faithfully stayÂ on your team during difficulties. This loyalty is especiallyÂ appreciated during aÂ divorce when one often feelsÂ like a failure.Â Words of encouragement sustain usÂ through the ordeal, until happy days are in sight.
Keep your secrets. Because of your history together, your peepsÂ know and safeguardÂ theÂ things you don’t want toÂ share with the world. Trust has been built to a point of knowing thatÂ your confessionÂ will go no further than that personâ€™s ears. Itâ€™s wonderful to have thisÂ space forÂ safe honesty.
Love is always there, no matter what. Time, space, and lifestyles may separate us fromÂ family and friends, yet we can be confident ofÂ the shatterproof foundation we share. It’s not dependent uponÂ any event or any circumstance of life. This bond gives usÂ the assurance that we are safe, solid and study.Â Without it, the rest falls away. No wonder we crave these relationships.
Just as newborn chicks need their peeps, â€œPeople need peopleâ€ to support their independence and maintain a strong foundation ofÂ confidence.
May you give and receive confidence from your peeps,