Through 2015, I’ve had the pleasure and the honor of connecting with hundreds of women across the globe on different forums. I’ve also been lucky enough to speak with oh, about a hundred women, from all over the world, one on one. There is this instant connection. A bond we share. As women. We nod along to each others stories. We understand the unsaid undercurrents, the hidden struggles. And no matter where we are located, those struggles, those stories are the same.
At first it surprised me. Then I started to see the patterns. Depending on where we were on our life journey, we had these shared experiences.
Of feeling like a square peg in a round hole, at work.
Of being sidestepped when it mattered.
Of being made to feel inadequate. Just because you are a woman.
Of being judged.
Of having to watch your words.
Of being careful how you dress.
Of having to watch where you go, with whom.
Of how physically exhausting those first few years of motherhood are.
Of the lack of support.
Of people who pull you down, but disguised as supporters & helpers.
Of friends, spouse, parents, who wish you well, but don’t understand, don’t know how to help, or don’t even see the problem.
Of dreams and aspirations, buried over the years.
Of loosing ourselves, in the roles we take up in the world, and of finding ourselves again.
It is in that space that we connected. The finding ourselves again.
Brushing the dust off those dreams.
Removing the cob webs from around those grey cells.
Discovering our strengths and who we are, inside, away from those labels.
Standing up for ourselves.
Claiming our space in the world.
That’s where we connected.
Someone asked me, why I chose to work with women entrepreneurs only. At first I didn’t. I worked with anyone who needed my help. And then I found, that things were different when I worked with women. The connection was deeper, the bond was stronger, the impact was greater.
Neither of us had to put up any pretenses or facades. There was no judgement. There was no proving. There was just acceptance. There was support. Unconditional. There was growth.
For me personally, too, it was a major breakthrough. Having been in male dominated spaces for over 20 years.. the change to be working with women, was a game changer. I was no longer the odd-one-out. I was not under constant scrutiny. I didn’t have to always be proving myself, fighting to be heard, over louder voices – just because of my gender.
I can, un-apologetically put my best foot forward.
I realized what I had been missing so long – the camaraderie, the acceptance, that men so easily get in the workplace, in the startup environment. And I realized that’s what holds so many other women back.
Stepping away from the corporate world into entrepreneurship, seems like a leap from the frying pan to the fire. (yep, cliched.) And so women shy away from it. Because they don’t know how. Not the technical know-how, not the theory. With the internet, that’s available in plenty. But mostly because they just don’t see how it will fit in with all the other roles and responsibilities they have. Because they don’t have enough role models. Because, where they come from, it’s not the norm. They don’t see how they can start, and grow a business, while juggling being a mother, a wife, a daughter and all else.
Today, I have just one message for the women out there still dreaming, still struggling, still doubting yourself. No matter where you are, how you are, who you are
You Are Enough.
[This is not the normal blog post you’d expect on a business site. I strongly believe women need to speak up more about how their experience of the world is so different from the ‘norm’. If you found yourself nodding along, if this resonated with you, if you’ve felt this way on your journey, please share it. So that other women out there know that they are not alone. That their experience, how they feel is not ‘crazy’, it’s not being over sensitive. It’s okay for them to feel the way they do.]