NaBloPoMo 2021: Do Good, Kid
I wonder how this post will land on women, versus men?
Another insight that emerged from my call with friends yesterday involved how we define and acknowledge our worth. Reflecting on the evolution of our lives, my friends and I explored identity, societal metrics of success, and what really matters to us.
One of us has been looking through old family photographs lately, and realizing that raising her family, more than her career, per se, is what affirms that ‘my life has mattered.’ I was just reflecting the other day on how much I seek the approval of certain people at work—how constantly their opinions weigh on my mind—leaders whom I respect, and whose respect I want in return. Why do I care so much what people think of me? The third of us has concluded that the most important meaning we can make in life revolves around deep connection with people.
All three of us are strong, independent, thoughtful, moral women who make positive contributions to society, no question. We all stand firmly in unabashed acknowledgment of our personal worth and existential worthiness. We know in our thinking brains that we are enough. And yet, we all still crave and seek the approval of others, of society. Whether it’s a title, income, or some other metric of status or accomplishment, we cannot help but attend to some implicit code of social standing. Ironically, too, isn’t it a societal expectation that we also ‘shouldn’t need outside affirmation’ for our self-image or –esteem? Fascinating.
We observe men and wonder if they feel at all similarly? Do men ever question or care what others think or where they stand in the group? They must, right? We all do. We three agreed that while we all have a human need for acceptance and belonging, men and women are socialized very differently in how to attain it. In short, men are expected to compete; women to collaborate. In both cases, though, I think we all shine brightest and are rewarded when we bring our whole, integrated selves to participate. The feedback we get from both competing and collaborating serves as our tribal belonging reality check, which is crucial information for relationships and survival. And, we all must do our own inner work. How can I bring my best self unless I know who that is? And how can I know unless I practice some kind of self-awareness?
So as usual, it’s a matter of Both, And: I live by my own strong personal standards of conduct and contribution. I judge for myself whether I do or am enough. And, I benefit from the feedback of those whose judgments and relationships matter to me. I check my work against meaningful external yardsticks and balance those metrics with my own ideals. I believe we can train to hold this existential and relational tension with humble confidence and self-trust. Connection (and collaboration) with amazing friends like mine are an essential part of a successful life training regimen.