It’s Women’s History Month and we just celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th. As women, what stories do we tell about ourselves? Who authors our story? How is our story shared, received, perceived?
And for that matter, what is the story of women in business?
Not your typical women-in-the-workplace story
We are a strongly female team, but even the male members of the Your People team are dedicated to egalitarianism on the home front and in the workforce. That’s why we go together so well.
I founded Your People in 2007, and before that I worked as a freelance journalist for 10 years, so I’ve effectively been working for myself, out of my home, calling my own shots, since 1998. That’s more than 20 years of carving out a life of meaning and purpose that feeds my family and nourishes my soul.
Our VP of Operations and Strategy, Kirstin Karoub, is the mother of three daughters, who earned her MBA and worked in big marketing positions before deciding to focus on raising her children. Now, she’s back in the workforce, but in a position that suits her quality of life. We get the work done, but on our terms, determined to be there for our families and not miss moments of real life.
Our Digital Marketing Specialist, Soojin Kim, teaches yoga and works wonders on our social media and for our clients, a thirtysomething who is carving out a life of meaning and purpose on her own terms. Our PR Associate Dana Nyquist is a twentysomething lucky enough to work at midnight if she chooses and from the comfort of her home.
The guys on our team – Michael Jackman as Media Relations Manager, Michael Thompson as web guru, and Tim Williams, our illustrious graphic designer – manage their households alongside their significant others and are devoted to their children much the same way we are.
This story seems bright and full of possibility. If only it were a typical kind of women-in-the-workplace story.
There’s the dark side, too. The story of women who are strong, vocal, and direct, referred to as bossy, bitchy, aggressive. When men exhibit the same traits, they’re lauded as powerful leaders, who know what they want.
There’s a well-known story of women not earning as much as men for the same – or better – work, the story of women competing with other women for attention, for credit, for the spotlight. There’s Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In story, which I don’t quite buy, because too often fear and competition cloud the concept of relying on one another to lift everyone up.
But we’re getting there.
You are enough, We are enough
I learned long ago that fear grows out of insecurity and anxiety that we are not good enough. I also learned long ago that there is more than enough work to go around, that there is enough for everyone.
One humid afternoon, in the yoga studio, whose walls were open to the tropical air, a view of dancing treetops and rhythmic rows of vibrant green rice paddies, she uttered these words to me, “You are enough.”
I am enough.
I remember it as a stunning statement, and wondered why she told me that. She repeated the phrase again: you are enough.
I wanted to run. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to say, “Yeah, I know, so what?”
And then I wondered: did I believe her? Did I really know this? Did I feel I was enough?
I didn’t say another word, but that night, as the tropical winds blew open my wood-framed windows, and rain lashed against the roof, I wondered why the statement triggered me so.
I’ve spent the years since climbing into the belief that I am, indeed, enough. That is one powerful story that we women try to tell ourselves and have a hard time buying.
We don’t have to be superwomen, managing home, work, and our own sanity in equal measure. We can be overwhelmed. We can get angry. We can feel our emotions deeply and not be weaker for doing so.
We are enough as we are. In fact, we are more than enough. We are powerful.
I used to say to my children, “Women run the world,” conscious as I uttered the words that my boys shot me puzzled glances, feeling the wince of hurt for not falling into that category. I do believe this to be true. And I know that by saying it, I am teasing the lion of prevailing wisdom.
Perhaps it’s time to revise the statement to remove this either-or sense of power that’s conveyed with those words. Does anyone really run the world?
When it comes down to storytelling, a true story comes from living the moments, listening to the stillness, and understanding that everything is known before we ever put words to it. I am powerful, and so are you. When we focus on doing good, we inevitably do well. And that must be enough for everyone.
Lynne Golodner is Chief Creative Officer/Owner of Your People LLC.