Today’s post is kind of about women. If you are a man who follows this blog, consider this a peek into the complicated minds and hearts of those creatures with whom you share the planet; the ones you can’t live with or without. This is also your opportunity to get out of today’s Monday blog while you can!
So, now onto women…
I recently had a frank conversation with a good girlfriend about what women are like when we enter the world of “us.” We concluded this: A woman walks into a room full of people and, within moments, scans the room looking at all the other females to put herself on the room’s “pretty scale.” Who’s the prettiest woman in the room? We check out each other’s outfits, makeup, hairdos, making quick judgments on taste and socioeconomic level. We analyze derriere sizes and make ass-umptions on exercise and diet habits. Then, upon actually meeting each other face-to-face and having an initial conversation, we listen carefully for political, philosophical and social beliefs and attitudes. Do we have anything in common? Could this woman be my friend? Would my man be attracted to her? Could she make me feel better or worse about myself?
I realize I might get a lot of heat with these observations. Some of you, perhaps, think this is utter hogwash and you could be right… or not. Some might want to chalk all this up to how we’ve been brainwashed by the skinny-pretty-photoshopped-advertising that we are all inundated with. Could be. Last week I encountered a hilarious blog that celebrated the irony that the new Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalog came out the very week that the Girl Scouts had their big cookie drive. Will thin mints keep me thin enough to fit into the stringy little beach things featured in its airbrushed pages? Others may want to chime in about income disparity when it comes to men and women—last I heard women were still making pennies on the man’s dollar. Where can I make my extra twenty-two cents? Let me know when you figure it out. So, that’s fine and I won’t disagree with you on any of these points but it doesn’t change how these kooky minds of ours sometimes work. We can be competitive, jealous and self-defeating when it comes to what is in our own best interests and I believe a lot of this comes from inside and how we approach other women.
There is, however, a place where how women think of each other changes, becomes more objective and less from a place of insecurity, confusion and the things outside our selves that influence us… and that is when we women connect with each other in a place that puts us in our joy. I’ve talked about being “in our joy” before and it is less about being stupidly happy twenty-four-seven than it is about being in a space where our personal, professional and social needs are essentially being met and are doing so in such a way as to make us feel fulfilled rather than wanting. It isn’t about prestige—who’s better than whom—and it isn’t about money. It isn’t about intelligence or academic accomplishment, it isn’t about prettiness, super-fitness or glamorous wardrobes. It’s about spirit, heart and inner peace. The least competitive and catty women you will ever encounter are those who find a space to truly live their dreams and are in their joy.
A month ago I started taking an online class with over 500 other people, nearly all of them women. It’s a course designed for artists to introduce us to the art and design licensing industry. While the ability level of the students ranges from beginner to professional and everything in between, there is a large population of fairly advanced students who take it for the sheer practice and inspiration it offers the working designer and their presence, upon starting the class, was immediately unnerving to me and many of the other newbies. It would have been easy for me to be judgmental and feel as though I was the ugliest girl to arrive at the party and, to be honest, after a little fit of jealousy, I sulked for a few days contemplating whether I’d jumped in too quickly to something I wasn’t ready for.
But then I took a breath and a moment to remember why I took the class in the first place. In fact, when the class began, the instructor told us to think of the three reasons we’d enrolled, write them down on a sticky note and look at them every single day. What did mine say? To explore different artistic avenues, to create a new source of income, and to expand my professional expertise. How were any of these women—experts though they were—keeping me from any of my goals? They weren’t. And, the truth is, when I realized that, I began to see that quite the opposite was true… they could actually help me achieve these goals. I started looking at their work and feeling inspired rather than envious, I began reading their posts for clues about how they got to where they were, I thought of questions I could ask them and happily absorbed their willing and generous advice. As more of the newcomers settled in to being beginners, the class forum became a wellspring of women in their joy supporting and encouraging each other, offering constructive criticism, sharing resources and providing advice based on their own successes and failures.
With a little perseverance, a little stumbling through Adobe Illustrator and a lot of help and encouragement from the group, this is the cuckoo clock inspired phone case I made.
Now, if you have gotten this far, you might say, well, this is true for anyone regardless of gender and you’re right, of course, but what I know best is women. And I do believe there is a great deal of pressure put on us to be fit, be smart, be nice and be good at whatever it is we do. I would argue that it’s not shallow or vain to work hard to obtain these goals but that, in doing so, finding some kind of inner peace and balance is paramount to being in a space where we can benefit from the success of others and share our own in return.
TRY THIS WEEK: Think about what keeps you in your joy?