I went to hear a great talk this week by Rachel Simmons, who wrote “Enough As She Is,” aimed at helping girls move beyond impossible standards so they can live happy lives.
Ms. Simmons requested the audience to “sit like a male,” then to “sit how a female would.”
Many of us became wider or taller sitting as a “male,” and many of us “shrunk” when we assumed a “female” posture.
It made me think about whether I and other women, fully show up in our lives.
With Too Many Roles, We Forget What We Love
Ms. Simmons then talked about “Role Overload,” and how girls today have so many opportunities, can be whatever they want to be, yet, they still must be “liked,” “pretty,” “friendly,” and “skinny.”
The problem, as Ms. Simmons asserts, is that the toxic message to be “amazing at everything” prevents girls from taking risks, creates anxiety, and leaves girls without many opportunities for self-discovery.
With all these roles they have to do perfectly, they stop remembering what they love.
Instead of assuming a “warrior” pose, girls assume the “worrier” pose, she says.
This cartoon by Gemma Correll that Ms. Simmons used in her talk sums it up:
WOMEN, YOU ARE ENOUGH!
To me, the most striking thing in Ms. Simmons’ talk was how these problems apply to many women, not just girls.
So many amazing women shy away from taking up “space,” and don’t always fully use their voices because they want to please, be liked, or they are afraid of being wrong.
We apologize when we are not at fault, or we feel the need to explain why we are saying “no” – instead of just saying “no.”
Or, we don’t speak up when we have an opinion because we are worried about offending someone or sounding ‘not smart.’
It took me years, even as a practicing litigation lawyer, to learn not to shrink before a menacing judge or an intimidating opposing lawyer.
And it took me more years, even after developing a bolder voice, to learn to how to have an authentic one.
To Hear Your Authentic Voice, You Need To Take Risks
Ms. Simmons encourages girls to take risks.
If we want our daughters to have strong authentic voices, we, as their role models, need to have strong, authentic voices.
What I often see, and have experienced in my own life, is that women can be very confident and capable in several areas, but because they are unwilling to take a risk, they get stuck.
Sometimes because women don’t want to fail or do “average” work, they don’t try something they think they might like. They don’t want to take a risk.
Even though I eventually became a confident and capable attorney, it took me years to follow my real passion, which is empowering women to lead in their lives. A few years ago, I took a risk of starting a women’s group for fun, which led me to become a life coach.
When you don’t allow yourself to take risks, you don’t allow yourself to fail – and more importantly, to grow.
Worse yet, when you don’t allow yourself to try something you think you might like, but have never done before, your voice becomes softer – or even silent.
Be BOLD About What You Are Passionate About
Take up space in things that you are passionate about. Don’t just make your voice louder and stronger – fully use it in the areas you care about. Whether it is at your workplace or in the community, boldly use your voice to make your or someone else’s life better.
We all need to learn to take risks, and then not beat ourselves up if we fail. As Ms. Simmons emphasized, girls need to practice self-compassion when failing. It is a skill we ALL need to practice.
Children learn the most from what we do, not what we say, so moms especially need to use their full, authentic voices.
Our girls, and boys, need to see women using their full real voices.
What Risk Can You Take Today?
As a life coach, I would challenge you to do the following:
Think about whether there is something new you would love to try at work or in your life. Then ask yourself: What is one small risk I can take today to move toward that goal?
I’d love to hear about it!!
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