So you can…
6. …figure out what you really want in life.
As I said yesterday, living alone helped me discover things about myself and what was truly important to me. As cliche as it may sound, there is something to be said for escaping the distractions of life — TV, opinionated friends, critical parents — and getting space to make decisions based on what YOU think instead of what everyone else tells you to think. Again, this is risky because you may have to set some boundaries by telling someone you love to back off if they disagree with your choices. Maybe you decide to pursue a simpler way of life and one of the things you do is get rid of your car (I did this, too, by the way). How many people do you think might look at you like you’re crazy? But if a simpler way of life is what you really want, you might need to piss them off and tell them to shut the hell up. It’s time YOU determine what’s important to you instead of letting the world, your parents, your teachers, your ex-boyfriends, your fill-in-the-blank tell you what’s important.
7. …learn how to value your own worth.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? All these things are connected: you need to be comfortable with yourself in order to be confident so that you can ask for feedback so that you can figure out what you really want in life. And THEN you can work on valuing your worth. So many women I know are timid and hesitant to not only reveal themselves to the world but to attach a value to what they offer. And I’m not talking about value only in terms of a price tag — I’m talking about women hiding and keeping their talents and creativity to themselves because they don’t think it’s worth anything. They’re not comfortable with who they are; they are not confident in themselves and they don’t think anyone will appreciate what they have to offer. They shrug and say things about their craft like, “Oh, it’s nothing,” or “It’s not that big of a deal.” NO. It IS a big deal. Do you think everyone knows how to do what you do? Does everyone in the world have the same eye for photography? Or for interior design? Or repurposeing used goods? Of course not. So your special knack for making jewelry — or whatever it is — will be valuable to someone who needs what you have to offer because she doesn’t have the same knack. But — and this is a huge but — if anyone else is going to value your craft, it has to be valuable to YOU first.
8. …get some clarity about what really matters.
How much time do you spend getting ready in the morning? Regardless of your answer I can probably tell you two things: 1. you’re likely not being honest with yourself. In your head right now you’re saying, “oh, it only takes me 30 minutes to get ready. Maybe 45 at the most.” LIAR! If you shower, shave, blow dry, pluck, moisturize, apply make up, pick out an outfit, accessorize and THEN try on 10 different pairs of shoes shoes with that outfit, there’s no way you get ready in under an hour. So I ask: are these activities more important than spending time with your significant other, even if it’s just a quick cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal? Or taking care of your kids in the morning? Let me tell you a secret. (Warning: it might gross you out.) I didn’t shower for something like three days in a row this week. OK, well, I rinsed off, but didn’t shampoo my hair, pumice my feet or use the loofah. This may sound odd (and disgusting), but 1. if you don’t live in Sacramento, you should know that it’s been 100+ degrees here almost every day this week; 2. I have been moving a lot of furniture this week; and 3. I’ve also been incredibly exhausted from the heat, moving furniture and running around. So I took the opportunity to sleep a little extra since I knew I’d just be getting sweaty all over again that day. Getting clarity about what really matters is not just about how much time women spend getting ready in the morning — it’s about identifying your priorities and then letting your actions demonstrate those priorities. Here’s another example: I am sick and tired of hearing women say things like, “Well, my boyfriend is in this band and he has a show in San Diego this weekend so I have to miss my best friend’s wedding.” And, yes, I have heard women say this. Seriously? So you are basically telling me that your stupid boyfriend who will never make it as a musician and who you will probably break up with in about two months is more important than your best friend. Or maybe it’s going to San Diego that is more important. Whatever. Unless you are married and you honestly plan to STAY married to the same person for the rest of your life, pretty much every other relationship should be the priority. I’m sure the voice inside your head doesn’t say, “Yes, my lame-ass boyfriend is more important to me than my childhood best friend,” but that is what your actions demonstrate to that friend or sister or whoever you’re bailing on. The same can be said of jobs, addictions, school, etc. The list could go on. So the question is: what’s more important? Your health and getting enough rest, or primping every morning? Your loser boyfriend (or fill-in-the-blank) or time with people you love — and who really love you?
9. …be an authentic women.
Unless you are clear on what really matters and you focus your time and energy on those things, you are unauthentic. You are probably consumed with your appearance, what others think of you, with magazines and the fake women in them, with the fall fashion trends and what you need to buy, with what movie or TV show you need to see next, with shopping for designer brands that supposedly project some sort of status, with which club you’ll go out to tonight, with which guys are cute and checking you out, with whether or not you’ll give out your number. I hate to break it to you, but this kind of woman is a dime a dozen. And guess what? These things are superficial. Do you want to be genuine and original? Do you want to make a difference in the world? That kind of life requires risky behavior and the guts to stick out in a crowd instead of blending in. That means discomfort. That means finding a way to be confident in yourself. That means not caring what everyone else has to say. That means pissing some people off.
10. …help other women be more risky.
If risky behavior is so hard and uncomfortable and pisses people off, then why bother? Well I don’t know about you, but I sure get pissed off when I meet a woman who has so much potential but she’s living in stereotypes instead of taking the risks to embrace her true self. So what do I do? I push back on her reflex response. If she says to me, “Oh, I could never go out in public without wearing make up,” I say, “Why not? Have you ever done it? Would it really be that horrifying?” If she says to me, “I could never leave my job,” I say, “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” The world is full of women clamoring to be Magazine Girls with all that glamor and money. We need to help each other break that cycle. Only a woman in progress of taking risks to find ways of living the life she was meant to live can help another woman begin that progress. We need to teach each other that the world will not come to an end if we leave our job or face the public without make up.
Bottom line: being true to yourself and letting others know your true self is risky. We do so much to hide who we really are out of fear of rejection. What a boring life! I say, risk revealing yourself to others; help others learn how to reveal themselves and the world becomes a better place.