It’s the summer of weddings. My weekends are quickly filling with not just ceremonies and receptions, but the myriad of wedding related events that surround them. Fortunately, the brides are some of my most favorite people. It’s been a great excuse to spend time with them and get to know their friends.
Last weekend I drove to San Francisco for a bachelorette party. I only knew a couple of the other women coming, so I was curious to see what the dynamic would be. It turned out, even with the addition of a very wonderful male friend, this was the most girl-power bachelorette experience I’ve ever had.
The group was extremely impressive. High level professionals, talented and intelligent, with a killer sense of humor. I laughed myself hoarse. A few of us were mothers, but without exception we were passionate about our work, our studies, and our hobbies. We were all driven, motivated, and hungry for a type of success that has little to do with money and everything to do with being exceptionally awesome.
Our dinner party turned into a discussion forum on the barriers and difficulties we’d encountered in our various lines of work. We shared stories of blatantly sexist comments and strategic decisions to not mention our children at job interviews. We lamented the pay inequality between ourselves and our male colleagues. We recounted all the ways we’ve been cowed out of asking for raises, even we when were promoted. We exchanged criticisms of Lean In. We admired one another for what we’ve been able to achieve, navigate, and overcome.
I drove home buzzing with energy and a renewed sense of purpose. The day reminded me why I started this blog: to provide a discussion forum for exactly these issues. Fortunate though it is, there is no longer a “sphere of influence” that constrains us to the home. It’s up to us to blaze a path forward (and up!). If we don’t discuss the barriers we face, we face them alone.
We’ve all had a female friend or coworker tell us we were crazy for taking on too much or aiming too high. Although it’s often unintentional, this discouragement can be seriously damaging. I know I’ve accidentally dissuaded friends from committing themselves to too many pursuits. I thought I was being a good friend, but I was actually powering them down. After this amazing evening, I realized the catalytic nature of women offering their support and congratulations to one another. What would we be capable of if we had a chorus of encouragement ringing in our ears instead of all the warnings and criticisms?
We’re on the edge of major advances in women’s and mother’s rights. It’s a terrible time to stagnate. So call up your bestie and tell her she deserves that new job. Get behind your girlfriend who’s working, going to grad school, and raising a baby. The next time you meet a little girl, ask her about her favorite books, not her favorite princesses.
We are capable of so much, but if we don’t believe in ourselves and the other women in our lives, we’ll never reach our full potential.