As a young girl, my appetite for princess stories was voracious. The singing, the woodland creatures, the ball gowns, the conquering of evil, the comeuppance, and, of course, the happily ever after. But before any happily-ever-after could be requited, the narrative arc needed to be crested, and the villain’s main motive was always the same: jealousy.
The evil stepmother. The ugly stepsisters. Ursula. Maleficent. The Queen. Each woman more jealous than the last. Covetous of our heroine’s unparalleled beauty, kindness, capacity to love and be loved, resilience and charm, they were cruel and vicious towards her.
When I was teased in grade school, my beloved Mama would soothe my brow with assurances that those other girls were “just jealous.” In my mother’s eye, I was that princess of unparalleled beauty, kindness, capacity to love and be loved, resilience and charm. “Stay away from them” was the directive. And a subtle distrust of other girls was born.
It ebbed and flowed over the years, to be sure. True and enduring 2 am call friendships would become forged that weren’t fraught with jealousy and tension. But a deep-rooted belief existed that somewhere lurked a woman (women?), jealous of me and my gifts who wanted nothing more than to peck my eyes out with her talons.
“Staying away” came to mean:
Keep your head down.
Don’t shine too brightly (you may become a target).
Don’t ask for help (scavengers will feast on your weakness).
Over time, this got pretty stale. As I started to become awake to my purpose on this sweet orb called earth, I knew there was another way. In fact, MANY other ways, and none that required me to keep to my small, safe and quiet path.
If I was to fully step into my purpose (and really…you don’t say “no” to your purpose), there was no way I’d be able to hold it alone.
I would need to trust in others.
I would need to ask for help.
I would need to shine brighter.
So I did.
And who showed up? Not a single vicious predator, but rather flocks and flocks of beautiful soul sisters. Mentors. Colleagues. More 2 am friends. Co-working partners. Genius collaborators.
And the more I showed up, the more they showed up.
Parliaments of owls, wise and insightful. Exaltations of larks, cheerful and self-aware. Convocations of eagles, spiritual and courageous. Bouquets of pheasants, noble and refined. Charms of magpies, creative and expressive.
Ah. Yes. This is the way for me.
In these flocks, I have found divine inspiration, guidance and solace. In these flocks, we gather and preen each others’ beautiful feathers. To the observer, this may seem an act of vanity. In fact, in this act of preening, we are bonding, insulating each other, helping one another to fly more efficiently, keeping each other healthier AND more beautiful. And once our feathers are neatly ordered and in place, we are ready to fly…often in formation to help conserve energy for maximum velocity.
It is my later-in-life belief that we need each other to love, to hold, to cherish, to champion, to challenge, to connect and to conspire.
- Dare to ask for help. It makes you neither needy nor dilutes your value of independence.
- Dare to see the brilliance in another’s feathers. Allow them to reflect back the brilliance of yours.
- Know that your success inspires their success. Your wins make their wins possible.
I intend to send this post to the women in my life who have taken my 2 am call. Have sent “what do you need” texts. Have listened with their full heart. Have held space for my fears and tears. Have helped me in my business with their promotional power. Have seen the beauty in my feathers and have preened them with me.
I will say to them, as I say to you:
Thank you for being in my flock. For having me here. For being here.
Will you do the same?