Girlfriends have always blessed my life. There is nothing as wonderful as the camaraderie, love, and support of a true friend. We often confuse social or casual relationships with true friendships and as a result some of us are left wanting or disappointed when those relationships leave us feeling unfulfilled. Even with the best of girlfriends, no one person can meet all your needs.
The role of a true friend is to create an environment where each one’s inner most thoughts, hopes, desires and dreams can be shared without judgment, criticism or “shade.” Women for the most part are nurturers and as such provide a soft place to fall for family and friends, sometimes at their own expense. As is commonly understood, we as women juggle so many balls in the air that we are often left exhausted, burned out and wondering whether we are suffering from early Alzheimer’s because of the increasing bouts of forgetfulness we experience most days. Unlike Alzheimer’s this forgetfulness is probably due to the fact that we are on overload and we actually think multi-tasking is an option and of course that’s just not the case.
Most young girls have a “best” friend. The girls share secrets, discuss boys, study together, and most importantly, talk on the phone multiple times a day. Friends wax and wane over the years as we transition through life’s rites of passage but for us lucky ones, there will be friendships that stand the test of time. One of the reasons I feel so passionate about the value of true friendship is because real friends can be a soft place to fall during many of the trials and tribulations we face. Conversely, there is no better cheerleader, confidant, coach and supporter than a real friend who stands patiently by celebrating every success, relationship and achievement in your life.
One of my bucket list items is to hold a “women only” seminar. Women have generally mastered the key to understanding the importance of having meaningful friendships yet there are so many characteristics that are uniquely intrinsic to women that others just don’t understand. Yes, we are generally nurturers, supporters, givers, and indeed smart but we also second guess ourselves, feel less than, and are hyper critical of our value and self-worth. I am an overachiever yet during my career I secretly felt that I didn’t have the “right stuff” to succeed in spite of a proven track record of success. In my mind, or my “self-talk” attributed my success to flukes, luck or random circumstances which had very little to do with my innate ability or my intellect. I often worried that someday I would be found out and that everyone would know that I was not as smart or talented as they thought I was. I never felt pretty enough, thin enough or smart enough and I thought I was alone in my negativity UNTIL…… I read an article about Bette Midler. No one can deny that Bette is a talented and gifted singer and actress. Her energy, passion, and ability to connect with her audiences are second to none. During that interview, Bette stated that she felt like a fraud and that she was afraid that someday people would realize that. Of course I am paraphrasing her comments but the point is that Bette Midler felt like I did and Bette Midler IS Bette Midler!! How many other women have been acculturated to feel less than? Why do we still need books like Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” in 2015? Although I applaud DOVE® and their commitment to enhancing the self-esteem of our girls, why is the DOVE® campaign for young girls such a welcomed and NEEDED adjunct to the raising of our young women and girls? How can we harness that all important sisterhood to celebrate women so that we truly believe we have the “Right Stuff” to successfully compete in this world, no matter what path we choose to take? The slogan “We’ve come a long way baby” had its origin over 40 plus years ago and yes we’ve made amazing strides during most of today’s “baby boomers” lifetimes. The number of women entering the workforce, attaining college and post graduate degrees, employed in historically non- traditional roles such as medicine, engineering, and science is unprecedented. Yet how much has been done to quell that inner voice of self-doubt, negative body image, and/or feelings of being not good enough. Being conscious is the first step. Providing a supportive and nurturing environment for women is a requirement.
Women must pay it forward for all of us to succeed. Mentorship is vital and cannot be understated. I believe that becoming a mentor or role model to a student, young mother, entry level professional, or someone just needing advice and experience will make all the difference in women’s lives. How different my life might have been if I had sought the counsel of those who went before me? I guess one never knows the outcome of the road not taken but thankfully the road I did take was not so bad.