I grew up playing with frogs, chasing after salamanders, building hay forts and riding on the tractor with my grandfather as we collected sap to make maple syrup. I wore dungarees, played sports and knew how to clean the scales off a freshly caught fish. I could throw a bale of hay almost as far as my cousin. And I understood the entire process whereby the cute baby farm animals would become ingredients for my dinner.
In short, I was a tomboy.
As I got older, I found that I was most comfortable in the company of men. Men tend to approach the world in a way that made sense to me: decisive, logical, direct and unemotional. I approached the world in much the same way. It came naturally to me. It was safe and uncomplicated.
More to the point, these characteristics of masculine energy served me well. In college and law school, I was rewarded by my professors for my decisiveness, logical arguments and direct approach. I could demonstrate these traits in interviews, and came across as unflappable and confident. Ultimately, I was offered a job with a law firm in Boston. From the beginning of my career, it was clear that I was on the fast track to become a partner in the securities litigation division.
I was good at my job, but I was desperately lonely.
I was surrounded by people, and yet I felt completely alone. I had worked so hard to be strong and independent, that I had lost touch with a whole other part of myself. I had buried my ability to be vulnerable and denied my intuition and emotions. I saw these softer traits as signs of weakness, instead of sources of strength.
It took several years of searching to rediscover and learn to value my feminine wisdom. Surprisingly, starting my own business in 2010 helped that process as I sought out relationships with other women business owners. These women became my role models, and in time my fierce independence was broken wide open to reveal something softer, more vulnerable and very real. My feminine wisdom became a new source of strength.
We all need role models.
We all need someone to look to for inspiration. We all need someone who can show us that what we most hope for and what our hearts most strongly yearn for is possible. We all need a reason to believe in ourselves.
The best role models are women who are not so very different from you and me. They have left bad relationships, bad jobs and bad situations. They have loved and lost and struggled and cried. They have felt alone and afraid. But they made it through and set out to create a better life, a life that speaks to their hearts and nourishes their souls. They have been exactly where you are now. And they remember what it was like. They understand. The best role models are women who see you, know where you are and are willing to share their own story of how they made it through, so that you and I might have an easier time of it.
We all need role models. We all need to be reminded that we are not alone—that other women who are a lot like us have struggled with the exact same thing we are struggling with right now. If they made it through, we can too. And this time, we have their wisdom, compassion and guidance to help us find our way. We also have each other.
We all are role models.
Yes, we all need role models. But there’s more to the story. Because the truth is that we all are role models—even if we don’t realize it yet.
Look at the women around you. What do they see when they look at you? What is the message of your life? What message would you like to send out into the world? Are those messages the same or are they not quite aligned yet?
Right now, someone is looking to you for inspiration. You are creating a life for yourself. You are taking steps that she wants to take, too. But right now, her fear is too big and too strong. She can’t see a way through the fear, so she waits. And she watches.
Step into the light.
What if you can inspire other women to follow their dreams? What would it feel like know that you have served as a role model for someone else? How would it change the way you live your life?
Come out of the shadows and step into the light. You have a story to share—a story about love and life and meaning; a story about service, connection and community. It is so important that you share your story, because we need to hear it. Your story—the struggles and the victories—will inspire other women to step into the light. Your story will change the world.
You are a role model.