Let me make this clear. I'm not a crier. My husband reminds me of that fact every night as we binge-watch The Walking Dead and my reaction to the unnecessary killing of main characters is pure vitriol instead of waterworks. Sure, there was that one time during my first pregnancy when I saw a three-legged dog and I just couldn't handle it. (Now, it was wearing a Halloween costume at a dog-tober fest in an upscale part of Austin...but that didn't prevent the hysterical sobbing). Second confession. I didn't buy the Adele tickets. My husband did. He's more of the romantic. I'm more of the Nine Inch Nails/Jay Z kind of girl. Don't get me wrong, Adele was amazing. And Adele, if you're reading this, which I'm sure you are (or will someday), you were hilarious! Seriously, I could have watched you do stand-up all night and never belt a single note. But, I also loved every minute of your performance.
Working as a female lawyer, one of the first admonishments you're given from those in the girls club is--don't ever let them see you cry. Ever. Oh, and be tough and firm so men don't run all over you, but not too tough or too firm because then you'll be labeled as the Biggest B**ch on the block. Done. I'm hardened. But not too hard. Not going to cry. Also, don't forget to make sure you wear a skirt and pantyhose in court, but don't bare your shoulders at the office, even if it's 110 degrees and you never see a client. Finally, get used to men interrupting and "man-splaining" everything you do. How can you really be yourself through all of this? How can you ever have confidence?
Scary World Overwhelmed
So back to the concert, what got to me? What was it about Adele on a Sunday night in an arena named after a major cola manufacturer? We weren't in a cozy concert in Europe; we weren't even under the romantic stars at the Hollywood Bowl. Was it being on the heels of the bullish attacks in Nice, France where I've stood with my husband and daughter watching fireworks? Was it the brutal recount of women raped at Stanford and Vanderbilt? Was it the viral body shaming that happened when a model posted of picture of a fellow woman showering at the gym? (As an aside, women are supposed to support one-another, not beat them down, but I digress...)
(No question there is uncertainty about so much in the world and maybe it's my adult realization that my daughters will grow up in a very different world than we did, that had my emotions in a whirl.)
Maybe it was the risk associated with being a female entrepreneur. The daily fear and wondering whether I made the right decision, and if I can keep using each setback as the motivation to propel me to not only push through, but also to help other women do the same. The constant need to have a "She has it all put together" veneer, regardless of the chaos of everyday life.
It turns out it was something different. What got to me was simple.
It was a woman who was being honest. Who spoke from the heart. Who was one of the kind girls. She speaks up. She is her own advocate. She hasn't always lived in the moment, but she is now. She has banished those from her headspace who don't uplift her, who don't make her a better person. She doesn't care what society "thinks" she should do. She speaks from the heart.
She was real. Not half-naked. She commanded the stage with sheer elegance and as someone who has not only mastered her craft but is true to it. To herself. She opened her soul. She was the reason for the gathering in a sold-out arena. A true success.
She wasn't afraid to be honest. Bitterly honest. About love, life, being fulfilled, even her body as she laughingly referred to her "bum." She was open to her flaws, her fears, the person she was, the person she is and the person she wants to be. I saw myself in her. I saw all the ladies whom I talk with on a daily basis struggling to find balance and confidence. The ladies who are trying to make it all work and not lose themselves or their identity. I saw my daughters in the images of a younger Adele. I felt the fear and the hope. I felt a sense of community. I felt the power of music as it becomes part of the process of feeling better, of exhaling. I felt whole as I disappeared momentarily from the barrage of our full lives, as I surrendered to become vulnerable, relaxed and present.
The emotions sneaked out and rolled down my cheek.
Thank you, Adele for being honest and for showing women it's perfectly fine to just be yourself. Thank you for being a role model who gives us the permission and confidence that goes along with it.
My experience at her concert was cathartic and all-consuming. I gave myself permission to just be. To realize that life is precious and we need moments like these where we are allowed to be open and re-energized. And I was reminded being emotional is okay. It's human.
We all need more moments like these, where we take down our guards, our shields and our protective emotional gear. It's not only human, it's healing.
Photo credit: Getty Images