The Unexpected Lesson I Learned From Arianna Huffington

I was recently invited to attend Richard Branson’s B Team 100%Human conference. It’s a small invite only event and I was excited to have been included. I thought I “made it” in some way to have been invited.

I was especially eager to hear from Arianna Huffington, another attendee, in an intimate group. As another woman in business I wanted to hear from Arianna — who has been on Forbes’s lists of the Most Powerful Woman in the World among other things. I wanted to hear about her experience broadly, and specifically, about Thrive Global. When it was her time to speak I sat there ready and waiting to consider new thought provoking ideas and take abundant notes. Notebook open and pen in hand, as she spoke, I was moved. After she was done, I noticed my notebook was empty. I didn’t write down a single useful strategy.

Instead, I had tears in my eyes.

Arianna shared about her self-judgment. She made a joke that she would often leave conversations with people and judge herself for what she wore or how she answered a question someone asked her.

What? I’m a new mother. That very morning I left my house in tears because my daughter, 3 months old, was having a hard time with me leaving. I left the house discombobulated and upset so that in a downpour I forgot my umbrella and raincoat. Brilliant. I showed up to the small event full of well dressed people — soaking wet. The only thing I had to wear instead of my water logged suit jacket was an old and ratty sweater. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. To add insult to injury, away from my daughter, I had to pump throughout the conference. I didn’t feel very dignified — attached to a contraption in a bathroom at an event — I wanted to crawl out of my skin. The undercurrent of my self-judgement — I don’t belong and I’m not “good enough” to be here.

When Arianna spoke about her self-judgment I became present to my own — how fast we are to criticize ourselves. As a new mother, I judge myself all day long…not being a good mother for leaving my new daughter with someone else when I go to a job I love, feeling like I’m not able to keep up with the demands of the business world, not being able to travel the way I used to, or make the kind of impact I want to make, not loving my body because it looks so different than it used to…

I sat and thought to myself, if Arianna feels like this, maybe judgment never goes away. Maybe it is something that as human beings we find a way to lighten and transform.

Maybe we just share about and be in the experience of with each other. Isn’t it loneliness of our thoughts that isolate us from each other? After listening to Arianna, I actually laughed at my humanity. And I laughed at how we all are as humans. A space opened up. And just like that I forgave myself.

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