I scored big today. With the help of coworkers and multiple browser windows, I was able to get tickets to the 2010 Women's Conference, which takes place in Long Beach this October. I was fortunate enough to attend portions of the event last year and the year before—nearly rubbing elbows with people like Caroline Kennedy, Maria Shriver, Jane Goodall, Paula Deen, and my favorite guy, Bono. The event is an extraordinary one, wherein women (and some men) share their life experiences, learnings, and feelings on topics ranging from health to careers to spirituality.
I know that in today's world, sharing seems to happen everywhere you look—social networking is exploding, people's stories are pasted all over their blogs, biographies fill shelves upon shelves at the bookstore. But I think the female gender could benefit from a little more sharing around the topic of self discovery.
Being single for a large portion of my adult life usually made me feel a bit depressed and unworthy. Sort of by default, I spent a lot of time alone and was forced to figure out what made me happy when I had only myself around. At the time, the pursuit of hobbies and time-passers felt like survival. Now I can see that it was a huge blessing that might just put me at an advantage forever when it comes to contentedness.
You see, as I'm learning more and more, a lot of women have no idea what makes them happy.
As children, we were often told that the key to "happily ever after" was finding a husband (Prince Charming) and starting a family (preferably one boy and one girl). Perhaps we were told to pursue our career passions, too. But I would venture to guess that most of us weren't told to try any and every activity we could to figure out what made us smile on a regular basis.
The result of this lack of exploration, I think, is that a lot of women out there are floundering and frustrated—and potentially seeking happiness from the wrong sources (like, for example, men who aren't their husbands). And as much as I disagree with the interest in other men, it's their sadness and general discontent that bothers me more.
If our culture is all about sharing these days, shouldn't we start sharing the secrets of quiet, internal fulfillment with our friends and daughters—and even mothers if they need help? Shouldn't we be encouraging girls to try new things and seek bliss so that even when they're married, THEY are the ones responsible for their own happiness? Maybe we would prevent a few affairs or nervous breakdowns or even simple, tearful conversations.
I'm not sure it would have made a difference to have someone tell me that my prolonged singleness was actually helping build a foundation for my cheery, self-reliant future. I probably would have still been antsy for a boyfriend. But looking back, I'm so very, very thankful that I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. And I hope that I can help some other ladies in my life to do the same...and smile a little more often.