A really really really really good friend of mine, Ayo, got engaged last month. For the very first time. At age 68.
This was not a likely thing to have ever happened in this world.
She came from a single mama who raised her alone.
And she had been a single mama, raising her daughter alone.
So there just was not much belief inside of her that she could or would ever find that sweet spot to rest in the arms of her beloved.
She never felt or tasted divine partnership – so how could she even break open her tiny undernourished imagination to the possibility?
She never even thought to crack the door open enough to take a peek.
But – luckily – sometimes our deepest longings are held in the eyes and arms and hearts of our Sisters.
Don’t you feel that way?
Your best friend says she can’t even apply to that competitive Ivy League grad school – but you know she can.
Your Mom says it’s too late for her to date, after losing your Dad, but you feel she has another shot at the brass ring.
Your co-worker feels too shy to ask that incredible businesswoman to mentor her, but you know she just needs kick in the ass to at least send her resume.
We live in a world where women do not have much history in standing for themselves – or standing for one another. Instead, we have a lot of experience joining one another in mutual victimization.
For example, we are so easy to agree when our friends blame their husbands for not helping enough around the house, or forgetting important occasions.
We agree that you can’t give up your day job to write that book.
We agree that if your boss is grabbing your ass in his office, it’s best not to say anything because you don’t want to lose your job.
That the flu this year was the worst, ever, and your horror story is calling out for me to tell mine.
But what if when a woman complains, or says she just can’t – she is not asking for help – she is actually asking to be called out on her bullshit?
What if there was a deep indigenous place, inside every woman, that remembers her power, on some eternal, invisible level?
You can see this phenomenon happen so clearly when a woman gives birth.
“It’s incredible when it happens and you’re by a woman’s side. And she comes to the end of this journey, and she says, ‘I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew I couldn’t do it. And then I did it. I hit a wall that was higher than anything I’ve ever seen in my entire life. And I scaled it.’”
— Elan McCallister (Mastery & Creation Grad) in the documentary The Business of Being Born
When that Sister calls you to say she just can’t… not one more step… not one more heartbreak—
do you step in and rescue her?
do you crumble, right along with her?
or do you call her out?
and press her harder?
The moment when she feels like she can’t, but she does anyway, is her moment to slay her dragons and lay those demons to rest for once and all.
The demons and dragons that keep a woman small and whiny are never vanquished with sympathy. Real compassion is insisting that your Sister rescue herself and stop waiting for the white charger.
This is a new form of sisterhood.
When my buddy Ayo was first even considering dating, she was so unsure of herself that she was too scared to go out on the actual date with a guy she had never met, by herself. She wanted to stop and hide.
I was not going to let her off the hook here.
I told her, “Fine – no problem – so don’t go out on your date yourself. Take a girlfriend with you.” And she did. Most men found it delightful, and those who did not weren’t going to be the right guy for her anyway.
My friend Ayo hit a place of fear in herself that looked unscalable. And once she did scale that wall, she found access to her true power, imagination, and gifts she could not have imagined were hers.
Turns out, she is incredibly good with men. She knows exactly what she’s doing – it’s just that she never got pushed onto the dance floor before.
There was a woman at the Womanly Arts Experience who deeply desired to join Mastery 2015, but did not think she could make it happen. Another woman stood up to encourage everyone there to give her money. I stopped that action dead in its tracks because I needed her to know a deeper, more powerful truth:
Every woman is capable.
Every woman has the power to create anything and everything she wants.
Every woman is infinite in her ability to make shit happen.
If we are a world of women who buy into each other’s victimizations , if no one stands for us and calls bullshit on our ‘inadequacies’ – how will we ever learn to stand in our own power?
Anything of worth requires investment.
And the things that are of the most deeply held value are going to appear to be the most impossible.
The women who make it into this School have chosen to put themselves on the line.
They know they may have to bump up against the potential criticism that exists from others, who can’t imagine why this is a good investment, or why it’s important for a woman to give herself continuing higher education.
These women have to hustle to get their kids and husbands handled for 4 weekends in New York City.
They have to organize the finances in responsible ways. Some have enormous distances to travel.
These women open themselves up to the potential for inconceivable change and transformation.
They have to scale the unscalable wall to locate their unimaginable strength, talent and power.
And when they do —that is the galvanizing moment when magic happens. Saying yes when every cell of your being screams ‘I can’t’ will lead to the most glorious love soaked adventures of your life. Like Ayo’s engagement.
In the comments, I want to hear . . .
What kind of a sister are you? Do you encourage your friends to go further and faster than they can imagine for themselves? Or do you agree with them that there is no way to dream the impossible dream? How would you like women to stand for you? Do you want your flames fanned? Or do you want another serving of empathy?