When Showing Up is the Solution
Every morning, my phone buzzes with updates of political policies that are nothing more than a thinly veiled “fuck you” to women or natural disasters, and bickering over how to help (while people die waiting for us to come up with a plan), racially motivated protests (plus backlash), mass shootings and recently added into the mix, the fuckery of Harvey Weinstein.
In these times, it’s hard for me to come up with some “you got this, girl!” feel good story or share a cute photo of my toddler. The feeling of just how much bigger all of this is than me, than my immediate circle, is drowning those things out.
So, how do you stay motivated, stay focused on what is in front of you, while being mindful of the world around you? How do you show up in your personal and professional life, when it seems like you must show up for the world? Or, do we just shut down and not show up at all? The feeling of helplessness that can snap us out of our most productive badass selves seems to be all the rage. In the last week, I have met with women from different industries, age groups, and various stages of life about this strong sense of overwhelm.
When this struggle arises, I take inventory of the things I CAN change. As contradictory as this sounds — stay with me — taking the reins of what’s directly within your reach can have a global impact. No act is too small.
I am fortunate enough to work on projects that make me focus on significant causes, most recently immigration and the plight of individuals and families affected by our policies in this country. As an Ambassador for Ladies Get Paid, I get to organize events and meet one on one with women to chip away at the gender pay gap. Meeting an LGP member for coffee after exchanging DM’s on Slack may seem trivial, but there is magic in those conversations. The moments of vulnerability, where we laugh over the shared experience of crying in the bathroom at work, or nervous underboob sweat appearing when we spoke up for ourselves, not only builds friendships, but also strengthens our belief in ourselves. This brand of empowerment causes change. So, while I may not be in a position to deaden the debate of kneeling during the anthem to protest the unfair treatment of those with more melanin or implement new gun policies, I can work on campaigns that build awareness for immigration reform, I can organize conversations for women to advocate for themselves (and each other) at work, and I can trust in the ripple effect of these efforts.
At all three of our Los Angeles town halls, there has been at least one attendee who (rightfully so) questions the effectiveness of having a discussion or expresses frustration around the presumed lack of action behind the words shared. At our last Ladies Get Drinks Happy Hour, I was approached by another black woman, and she shared her hesitation to attend, citing many photos show a lack of diversity. I admitted I’ve often felt that way about events and organizations, but my policy is that maybe they’re lacking diversity because I haven’t shown up yet. While this isn’t always the case, it’s put the power back in my hands. I shared with her that showing up would help bring resolution to the very thing she felt uneasy about (bonus points for showing as a member of an underrepresented community then immediately gunning for leadership).
So often, simply showing up is the solution.
1. Get involved with something, with anything, bigger than you. Simply taking your focus off your woes can do wonders and remind you of just how powerful you are.
2. Stop running from leadership. If you find yourself frustrated with how things are done (at home or work), this is often a clear sign you need to take the lead in creating change. I’m aware this is easier said than done. The anxiety of being seen, of being accountable for the results, can be crushing. Breathe and move forward anyway.
3. For every complaint you think or speak, look for a solution, even if that solution is for something entirely different!
4. On the days you’re feeling like absolute shit, looks for ways to help someone else. It may sound counterintuitive, but it works!
Most important, understand that you are never “the only one.”
Get Shit Done.