Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We All Have Something to Learn from Each Other

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.


Sizzle said...


I'm also glad I've had all these years to figure myself out. Because I know when I marry Mr. Darcy I do so knowing who I am.

Deeper exploration of what makes us happy, inspires us, all of that stuff outside of taking care of other people- that's so important!

Anita said...

What a great post! In my current state, I am often reflecting upon life and what hands I've been dealt. I'm learning to try to find happiness in the little things in life but sometimes the mind just doesn't want to see it.

It's easy for people to see from the outside in that everything seems great and perfect when in reality, it's all just chaos. It's my responsibility to use this time to truly explore my inner self and try to get out of it a stronger, happier person.

Thanks for the reminder...

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I was always so thankful that I went through a period of assuming I'd never get married. It was during that time, I learned to find happiness by myself. It wasn't lonely or sad, but it was a happiness independent of other people. And because of it, I like to think I am a better version of myself now that I'm with Sweets.

Danielle said...

I want to teach my daughter to go after what she loves at any cost. Ie career. If something really is in her heart, even if it isn't the norm or a money maker, I want her to go for it. Happiness and contentment is something I wish someone would have taught me at a young age!

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting, after reading this post, is that most of the feelings and pressures you talk about in this post are not unique to women. Guy's are encouraged to "settle down" and have a couple of kids (after the proscribed "wild years" which, of course, if you didn't have, you are ostracized as being a "loser"), find a career they love, seeking happiness in the wrong places (alcohol and wayward women, for example), etc.

But, of course, we guys aren't allowed to talk about it. And we sure as hell can't have a "conference" about it! LOL

thecoconutdiaries said...

@Geekhiker I'm sure there is one out San Francisco.

Windsor Grace said...

Great points! I have been learning this for myself the past couple of years. Especially for me, was that I had to realize that I wasn't always okay just because I'm in a relationship and I still have to work on myself and find my own way even when I'm with someone else.

Ris said...

I love your honesty in this post. I still struggle with this but I'm trying to find what it is that makes me happy for me, regardless of whether I'm alone by default or design.

Dingo said...

Great points. What "they" also fail to tell us is that when we deviate from the lifescript to figure out what we want rather than buy into what "they" say we should want, others are going to be unhappy. It's as if our choice to go a different route is an affront to their choices. The pressure is tremendous and you're right, many women have no idea what makes them happy. Women either have the trappings of happiness and wonder why they feel unfulfilled or we are so anxious about not having what everyone says will make them happy that they are miserable.

Hee! My WV is cosign.