Dear Beloved Women,
How are you doing, really? This is a question a group of friends and I have been asking ourselves on a weekly basis. We meet together in coffee shops, restaurants and over Skype to have real conversations about our lives. There are no guidelines to this question except you cannot respond with phrases like "I am good." "I am okay." "I am fine." The purpose of this question is to dig deeper into our souls and be honest with ourselves. This is often a lot harder than it sounds. Why should I have to be real when it's so easy to pretend everything is okay?
In this day and age, we are bombarded by so many messages. With a simple click of a button we can either feel great about our lives or overwhelmed. There are so many things competing for our attention. We are constantly scrolling through messages, social media feeds, causes, videos and campaigns. As women, we simply have a lot going on. Am I right? We are CEOs, entrepreneurs, mothers, aunts, sisters, caregivers, corporate executives, writers, fitness enthusiasts, activists, teachers and the list goes on and on. Can we really do it all? Everyday we compete for space and time in our homes, villages, boardrooms, and marketplaces. In some cases, we may simply be trying to survive and get through to the next day. No matter where you are or where you live there are so many things competing for your attention and action.
Recently, a wise woman challenged me to take a pause. Yes, ladies, she asked me to stop and set aside time to listen to my own voice. This time and space can look different for each of you. She encouraged me to think about what in my life actually makes my heart sing. When you step out of the noise and clamor of life where do you thrive?
I am a storyteller.
When I was little, I used to climb up on the big couch in my living room and tell my family the most fascinating stories. To this day, I am known in my family for the riveting stories I would tell. I spent hours upon hours in my room writing poems and short stories. Even now, communicating through written word flows more naturally to me than any other form of communication. It is through writing, I have truly found my own voice. I have come to value the importance of my story. I believe in the power of storytelling to create change in hearts, lives, communities, nations and the world. I have seen this change in my own life and in the lives of other women. I don't think we need to be told to use our voices. I think we need to pause and learn to trust our voices more. Believe in them.
I have not always had confidence in my voice. Throughout my life, there have been people who have told me my opinions, thoughts and perspectives don't matter. Even to this day, I struggle with that. When it comes down to it, I think so many of us have difficulty believing our story is important. We get caught up in trying to clamor over the noise, prove our worth, stay ahead of the curve and simply find some semblance of balance. I don't know about you but when I get lost in the noise of life, the first thing I lose confidence in is my own voice.
On March 8th, as we celebrate International Women's Day, I am not asking you to add one more thing to your plate or to do list. We all know our plates are full. Take heart, dear friend, you are doing amazing things already. I am encouraging you to pause and truly listen to your own voice. This is important. Then consider two questions, "How are you doing, really?" and "What makes my heart sing?"
As a woman, who you are is enough, your voice is enough.
Cover photo credit: Alison Postma, Flickr Creative Commons