Finally. It’s Friday, and it’s the start of a new series I’m going to be writing on the blog called Getting Real, starting with Advice for Women this week. Blogging is all about authenticity and telling your stories, and some weeks, I get away from that. A friend of mine told me last week: when you hit a block on what to write, write about what you know about, you know, that personal stuff you normally keep hidden. It sounds so simplistic, but it’s so true, so starting this week, I’m going to begin sharing stories of things have happened, or are happening, in my life. I have plans to talk about our disastrous cross-country move, our struggles with secondary infertility and parenting/child-health struggles. I really hope you join in with responses, too!
Earlier this week, I was conversing with a friend about moving. I joked with her that moving is right up there with job loss, illness, sadness and happiness in how they really show you who you can count on. I laughed at the time, then thought about it a bit. It’s really not so funny, but as I get older – and I like to think, wiser – I realize that humor is underrated and we need to take it where we can. Life is short and while we can’t control everything, we can control how we react to things and who we let share in those things. I’m going to refer to all of this as advice from an old lady, but it’s also advice I’d share with my daughters.
Why my daughters and not all my kids? Women are different. You know what I’m saying. Give a problem to two men together, and two women together, and watch how the two pairs resolve it. It’ll almost be entirely different. Men may have their issues but one of them is not normally drama. Resolve that crap and move on. Women tend to complicate things. They overthink, read way too much into things and then take action, frequently before even really knowing the whole situation. They inject themselves into something that’s not about them even and react emotionally. So, because I’m female and therefore my experiences are from a female perspective, this is way more relevant to my daughters. (And it would probably bore my sons to death while alternatively scaring them and confusing them.)
Before I dig deep into this, I’ll share why I’m touching on this at all. I went to a blogger and women entrepreneur conference this past weekend. I was surrounded by amazing women all building businesses based, in one way or another, online. It’s a different world and I came home so excited to implement a million notes, tactics and changes that I learned in the whirlwind that was the day. It was held in San Diego and the 2-hour drive each way was an easy one; it gave me time to relax before I arrived and to ruminate on what I’d learned on the way home. It was such a good day. I came home boosted up and ready to take on the world, which is why we go to career conferences, right?
While there, I heard from inspirational women with stories that were both jaw-dropping and motivating. Advice for women catch phrases like “Someone stupider than me has figured this out” (thank you, Jill Simonian!) and “Boom!” (Ann Evanston), it was pounded home that life is short and we can work our way out of our problems into something good. Leave behind the negative, focus on your goals and surround yourself by those who support you. Given a couple of challenges we’re currently facing, I can attest to how those challenges really do show you who you can count on. Success, for one thing, seems to tick people off. Some people don’t want to hear about it. Others don’t get the time that you invest or what you’re even doing. On one hand, I don’t understand it at all. On another hand, I get that sometimes it can be hard to hear good things happening in others’ lives, particularly if you’re unable to do whatever it is right now, but that’s our problem, not theirs.
Moving, job loss, sadness, happiness – people scatter. Maybe not for everyone, and maybe not right away, but people talk a good game about being there when you need them. I’ll help you, you can count on me, etc….we’ve all heard it from people, then when you look at your phone, there’s no response to your text and you see stuff on social media that signifies they’re still alive and kicking but just not including you. (This is why a social media hiatus during a rough spot is something I encourage…unless your feed is all puppies, then it’s okay.) It sounds bitter to acknowledge it, but I more feel like it’s smart to acknowledge it. When you’re got challenges in your life, you don’t need those who supposedly have your back to make things worse or be insensitive.
So my advice for women, to my daughters and other women out there?
Trust yourself above all. You know who you are, you know what you’re doing and you know what you stand for. Don’t let someone else’s lack of confidence or need for attention take away from your experiences. Know when to disengage, without guilt, knowing you’re doing the right thing for you. Know that you’re enough.
Always try to be nice, until it’s just no longer possible. I like to think that when I’m dealing with someone else’s pettiness or negativity, I at least left the last exchange on a positive note.
Give yourself a limit. When you start exercising, you know you can’t just run indefinitely. You have a goal in your head: until I can’t breathe, 30 minutes, when my feet hurt, until you fall, etc. Know that you don’t have to tolerate rudeness and negativity forever. It’s like when my son with autism used to obsess over certain unhappy situations he faced; we told him “You have five minutes to talk, bud, then we’re moving on to something else.” It worked, and he was pretty young. He felt heard and we knew there was an end in sight. Have you helped the same person move repeatedly but when you need help, they’re out to lunch? Time to move on. (See what I did there?)
Teach people how to treat you. If you let them treat you as their inferior, they’ll continue to do so. If you don’t require a relationship to be 50-50, it won’t be. If you want to be treated kindly, require it. We’re smart enough to know if we deserve something and if we don’t. The longer you put up with something bad, the more of a habit it becomes, and then it’s even harder, or impossible, to fix.
Know your worth. Are you a good listener, always there when others need to rant or vent? Remember that. Are you loyal? Acknowledge it, as not everyone is good at being there when the chips are down. Do you make people laugh? That’s so important! Can people count on you to show up at the door when someone needs help? That’s a trait to be proud of. Do you love to host events at your home? Hospitality is way underrated. Don’t forget your positive attributes you apply to others. They’re good to remember when you’re upset about something or second-guessing yourself.
Put your time towards things that make you happy. Even if you’re the good listener or always out helping others, you get to put yourself first sometimes. It’s okay to say “No, I can’t.” It helps you build yourself back up for the icky things in life that you have to deal with, like work, illness, exercise, in-laws…
Walk away from drama. Some people thrive on it, and can make it everywhere. “Not my circus, not my monkeys” is a great phrase to remember, and it makes me laugh a little.
Overall, value yourself. If you’re already facing an uphill battle, you don’t need someone else making it worse. There are others out there who will help you move, who will listen like you listened to them and who will be happy for you…or will just talk to you about the normal stuff going on in life. We all see the stories in the news about teens killing themselves because they feel alone and embattled, and it always makes me so sad. Where were their friends? Why didn’t they have a support system? We adults have the tools to build that, or get through in the meantime, but teens aren’t always there yet. Use those tools. Use your choices to be around people that don’t scatter during a rough point in your life.
Remember you are your own project. None of us are perfect but if we focused on our own issues instead of telling others they’re wrong, what a happier world it would be. Unless you’re trying to truly help and be kind — not judging or throwing out brutal honesty that only makes you feel better– mind your own business.
Or go to a conference full of amazing ladies who have similar challenges and thrive on building each other up with motivational conversations and kindness. Remember their stories of near-death experiences, divorces, job loss and loneliness and the tips they shared on how to move forward; even if you’re not going through any of that, you can benefit from the wow factor that an inspirational lady can generate. My business isn’t where I want it to be…yet. And that ‘yet’ is fired up by the fact that I’m making choices that will allow me to shape my environment to an extent. We all have that choice.