Last week, I wrote a letter to all men in the form of a blog post. If you haven't read it, feel free to check it out here.
In light of the Dr. Ford case and its verdict, I thought I would write a letter to all women, something I haven't seen out there. So here goes.
First and foremost, I adore you. Life begins WITH you. I am empowered by you, WITH you, no matter where you are from, no matter what experience you have had, and no matter what anyone else says. I just love being around you and your energy.
WOMEN WITH BOUNDARIES
Don't get me wrong. I love Doctors WITHOUT Borders, Teachers WITHOUT Borders, and any other organization WITHOUT Borders. I've coached a bunch of women who begin with, "Well, I just ended up saying yes to this person/situation/event and now I am super stressed out." It's like that nagging thread on a sweater. You think if you just pull it a little, it will come off, but actually what ends up happening (or at least to me) is that it just unravels even more, and before you know it you're walking your sweater to the tailor. Beyond your sweater that needs to be taken to the tailor, the result of not drawing boundaries is a total burn out, which is no bueno. So rather than going beyond your boundaries, if you create them WITH people, you may just be pleasantly surprised that they respect you MORE not less, and you'll have a lot less sweaters to take to the tailors!
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH
One particular session with my life coach, I lamented, "My friend is making me feel bad..." She asked a few coachy questions and then she asked the question that now plays in my head like a repeat song that won't stop: "Why don't you speak your truth and just tell her how she is making you feel?" I thought of a long list of excuses, you know, kind of like Taylor Swift's "long-list of ex-lovers": She would hate me forever, she would never talk to me again, she would hang up the phone, and the list went on.
Don't worry, I did speak my truth, and none of those things came to pass. In fact, I think our friendship is only stronger for it.
I think it takes practice though. We are taught to accept the unacceptable, keep quiet and look pretty, don't disturb the peace from a young age. So what I often tell clients, and what I do myself is I start SPEAKING MY TRUTH to people in customer service: Yesterday afternoon I was in a taxi and needed to go pee really badly. I knew it would be a pain for the driver to pull over, I didn't want to inconvenience him, but I decided to SPEAK MY TRUTH and he obliged by pulling over at a hotel. *Phew, crisis avoided.* You'll find once you get going that speaking your truth isn't all that bad, especially when you realize if you don't, it could escalate into a UTI! TMI?!
SAY THANK YOU
Last night, at a women's networking event, (the second I have put together since starting at WeWork), I noticed when I would do my usual Kyla-Goes-PR-Mode of introducing women I already knew to other women something like, "Oh this woman Gigi is such a badass, she has her own company," the woman I was complimenting would shrink down. Inevitably the response would be, "Oh, I am just a one-woman company," "Oh, I haven't really started it yet," or nervous laughter. One woman had a single out on iTunes, which caused quite the stir (in addition to her many other accomplishments), so we attempted to listen to it on someone's iphone. The songstress/fementrepreneur literally turned around and covered her ears. Ok, before you say anything, I'm not saying you have to be that Cocky asshole who says, "Yes, I am the best X in the world," but remember when you discount what you're doing you invalidate yourself. So just say "thank you." And if you need a little gentle reminder/good chuckle, check out Amy Schumer's hilarious parody of all of this on YouTube.
SORRY -> THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE
When I lived in Japan for three years, I felt like I was apologizing for everything: things that were not my fault, things that were beyond my control, for being single, not Japanese enough, for being too early to an event, and the list goes on. When I studied abroad in China, one of my best friends was Japanese. When we were getting off a public bus, the bus door slammed in her face, and she apologized. Meanwhile, the bus driver scolded her and told her she should have gotten off the bus quicker. Wait, whaaaatt?! Last night at that women's networking event, a woman showed up and apologized for not having dressed up enough, another woman apologized for not bringing snacks (even though that wasn't a requirement), and I found myself apologizing for seemingly interrupting a conversation. To break out of this Sorry Syndrome, how about replacing your Sorrys WITH "Thank you for your patience" instead?
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
I'm about to give you some shocking statistics. Are you sitting down? Maybe grab a cup of coffee/tea before reading on. In a Dove global study of beauty it was revealed:
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
When I began talking about my depression after my mom's dementia diagnosis, I was so terrified at being judged. What I found instead was a bunch of women in my amazing community here in Songdo who reached out to me, came over and talked WITH me over tea, shared their own stories of depression, and continue to support the heck out of me.
You know how we idolize celebrities? Well, recently, Gisele Bundchen was asked by her son, "What is a celebrity?" She answered that they are no different from others, but they just live their lives more publicly. Yes, and they struggle with the same challenges we do. Can you imagine the highest paid super model in the world would struggle with mental health issues and even contemplate suicide? I know, let that sink in a second.
She even recently wrote a book about it all: Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life. And of course, because she is so awesome, she is donating all proceeds from the book to a charity. In an interview on Good Morning America she cries talking about that moment she was out on her balcony contemplating suicide. If you need even more evidence that you're not alone, two journalists wrote this book called The Confidence Code. They revealed that the likes of Hilary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, and other global leaders also self-doubt just like us. WHAAAT?! I know. See? You're not alone.
DON'T PUT YOURSELF DOWN!
On a recent trip back to the U.S., I took a shuttle bus to the rental car center from the airport. Those shuttle buses--for those of you who have taken them--ain't the easiest things to board...especially with luggage. I recall this scene so vividly because this woman basically put herself down in such a dramatic and showy manner. I am sure, ironically, she didn't want to call any attention to herself at all. Once she boarded the bus, there was no more space for her suitcase in the luggage storage area; so her suitcase tipped over and she was at once mortified exclaiming, "Oh my gosh, I AM CLEARLY A HOT MESS!"
I can assure you, nobody was even thinking that. Well, nobody these days cares much about what anybody else around them is doing. I mean, she could have been doing a little song and dance for all anybody knew. Except as you can probably guess, everyone was preoccupied with their phones. So the next time your suitcase falls or something happens, rather than putting yourself down, just walk away calmly and smile remembering that we are all imperfect humans. Oh and do a song and dance, why not?!
If you've made it to the end of this letter, thank you--thank you for your patience (I won't apologize for writing a long blog post). And if you could pass this along to a woman you adore, then we have done something great together. We have created an incredible movement of women who support each other, work WITH each other, lift each other up, and help each other create those much-needed boundaries.
Oh and don't forget, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
Wishing you Happiness,
SpeakHER. InsipireHER. TraveleHER.