When I was raising my children, I wasn’t surrounded by very many women who supported each other. I was surrounded by people with old-school ideas about what a woman’s role should be. There wasn’t anybody saying, “Yes. Go to school. Get your degree. You can do it!” Instead, it was all about sabotage and undermining.
But when I landed a position as a secretary with a government agency, all that began to change. All of a sudden, I found myself surrounded by nothing but ambitious, successful women. Women interested in bringing each other up, instead of pulling each other down. My boss, Gloria, was such a woman. She encouraged me to go to school and get my degree. She taught me that everything is negotiable and that I should always approach life with a “can-do” attitude.
I was always treated as her equal – introducing me as her colleague, instead of her secretary. And she provided me with opportunities that other secretaries weren’t privileged to. To this day, I consider her my mentor.
It Takes A Village
What I realized working for Gloria is that “It takes a village” to create successful women. No woman is an island. As women, we need to support each other if we are ever going to break barriers. It’s so important to surround yourself with a strong tribe of women who believe in you and will be there in good times, and bad. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. Who have seen you at your worst, and love you still. Who will cheer you on when you’ve hit those milestones, and be there when you need a shoulder to cry on, or just to hang out and laugh out loud.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Another lesson I learned from Gloria: I didn’t have to go it alone. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s important to rely on your support system to get through the hard times – and it doesn’t mean you’re weak, quite the contrary. It takes a strong woman to ask for help. You’d be amazed at how much help is really out there . . . all you have to do is ask. Author Louise Bernikow says:
Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other to belong to themselves.
The best thing any woman can do for herself is to have a great girl tribe. I am aaaall about laughing out loud with the girls! For those of you who already have a great tribe, KUDOS! For those of you who don’t, I say go out and get one. Join groups or clubs that interest you, where you’ll meet other women with your same interests. Check your local Meetup. If you’re an introvert, start small. If you live near a Barnes & Noble, go to one of their monthly book events where you’re bound to meet other like-minded women. Meet for coffee. Go to a movie together, and go from there. The key take away: You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!
Still not convinced? Then check out Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s hilarious TED talk on the importance of celebrating lifelong female friendships: