“What do you know about empowering women? You can’t pass yourself off as an expert if you are not! I don’t think your idea is going to work.” These are the words I heard a little over a year ago from a coach at a very reputable coaching firm when I presented my idea of empowering women through writing a blog. He didn’t get it. He thought I should have prior experience, a degree or some stamp of approval before I could create a blog and website about woman empowerment. These words 10 or even 5 years before would have crushed me and stopped in my tracks. Because there would have been a part of me that believed him. I would have believed that my voice didn’t matter. What did I have to say that hadn’t already been said, and said by people that were more qualified to share their opinions that I was. He seemed angry and frustrated with me, almost like I was wasting his time. I was hurt, and felt stupid. He kept talking for the next 20 minutes of the trial coaching session, but I had tuned out. I mentally fogged over and went quiet as my feelings of inadequacy rose up within me. He had triggered my defenses of not listening and spacing out when hurtful words were being said to me. My idea at the time, was just that, an idea. It was a feeling that I couldn’t quite fully express yet. I thought maybe this coach could put into words what I was feeling so that I could take action. But he couldn’t. He didn’t understand it. So, instead of him just saying that to me, he got angry.
Why did it seem that other people were constantly trying to keep me quiet? And why were they so angry? Was I hitting a nerve in them? This wasn’t about them, it was about me. This was about me doing something that I was passionate about. I have always believed that women have so much untapped potential. It was an abstract idea, but I just felt it, and felt that it was important. This wasn’t the first time someone had tried to shut me down. I felt like in subtle and not so subtle ways this had happened to me my whole life.
At the end of the call he asked if I wanted to sign up for the coaching program. I was a little shocked that after the way he had treated me that he would even ask. I told him that I would have to think about it. In a mocking tone, he said “If you can’t decide right now, than you are not a right fit for us.” Another jab, that didn’t go unnoticed by my heart. ‘Ok’, I said to him, ‘but just so you know nothing is going to stop me from moving forward on my idea. I am doing this!’ He hung up. This was a coaching program that I had been listening to on YouTube, and Podcasts almost a year before this call. I believed in their process, so his unkind words and impatience with me hit me even harder. To me, it was like a trusted friend suddenly turning on me.
Through my hurt and doubt, I was determined to move forward and create my blog and website. His words slowed me a little, but didn’t stop me. I had been stopped and silenced so many times earlier in my life, but I had made the commitment to myself to do this no matter what. I came up with a mantra, “I will write even if everyone is mad at me and no one reads my writing, I will write!” I would say this to myself when I was feeling insecure or I felt like people were mad at me and didn’t understand me. Creating my blog and website was a solitary process. There wasn’t a boss over my shoulder asking about my progress, there wasn’t people relying on me to get this all set up so that they could do their part, there wasn’t an audience waiting for my writing. There was nothing. Just long hours of me clicking away at my computer alone trying to figure things out. No one was invested in what I was doing, except for me.
When I published my first blog post, it was 300 rambling words and no one read it except for my husband. But, I felt a sense of accomplishment anyway. I did it! I wrote a blog post! No one stopped me, no one silenced me, no one judged me. There was something dangerous yet exciting about making it public for everyone to read. For some reason, this allowed me to let go of long held negative beliefs about myself. I didn’t have to hold secrets or insecurities inside anymore to eat away at my confidence. That alone was rewarding enough to me, but when women started signing up for my mailing list, commenting on my blog, and telling me that they felt the same way my heart almost burst opened.
My blog started out as an idea to empower other women, but I realize now that I needed it to empower myself. There was a deep desire in me to tell my truth that I could no longer ignore. I have learned a lot in writing this blog, but the most important thing I have learned is that life is not static. I will not reach a point in my life of nirvana and say, ‘Ok that is it, I am completely happy and I don’t need to ever grow or challenge myself again!’ I feel like I have always been trying to reach that point, and once I got there I could just relax and be comfortable. But now I know that will never happen. A small part of me will change every single day. It will change whether I like it or not. It will change because I am a living breathing being. Change is going to happen, so why shouldn’t I have a say in the direction I am going?
Looking back on my conversation with that coach, I realize that there is nothing he could have said to help me that day. I was looking to him to give me answers about the direction of my life. I was asking him what I should do with myself to get where I wanted to go. I gave him my power and asked him to tell me my future. But, I needed to look inside and find these answers for myself. I was being lazy, I wanted someone to make it easy for me and walk me down a clear path with minimal mistakes and hurt. That is impossible. I know that now. Coaches, family and friends can give me their opinion, can tell me their experiences and try and guide me, but I have come to realize that no one can tell me what to do with my life but me. I have to do the work. I have to listen to myself, decide what is important and keep my commitments to myself. This isn’t a one time event, it is a daily practice. There is no easy way out, and no one will do this work for me.
My idea is now a reality, I write a weekly blog about taking back my power. People actually do read it, and I feel like they feel empowered too. But my commitment to myself and my mantra has not changed, and that is “I will write, even if everyone is mad at me and no one reads my writing. I will write!”