Women. We’re a quirky bunch, aren’t we? There is a certain complexity in being a woman. We can love with a capacity that seems almost unfathomable, and then two minutes later, we want to claw someone’s eyes out. We can find so much joy in building others up, and by the same token, many women also find immense joy in tearing others down. We spend an inordinate amount of time tending to the needs of others, often losing ourselves in the process. We can be strong and aloof, also tender and vulnerable.
I’ve been on a quest lately. A quest for more women in my life. For good women. For accepting women. For authentic women. For women without an agenda. If relationships were like shoes, then I am on a quest to find a stable, reliable woman with good arch support, who can go from work to play, from summer to winter, a woman who affords me a bit of room to grow, and won’t give me blisters. Women (and shoes) like that are really hard to come by. But, I am a determined little bugger with an air of positivity and faith, so my quest continues…
So, my desire to broaden my circle and find this elusive species of kindred woman has led me to do some things that I wouldn’t normally do. Out of the box things. Things that make me nervous. Things that, often times, might make me look like a total dork. Last night was a prime example. I did something that two years ago I never would have dreamed of doing. Are you ready for this (I wish it was more exciting after all this build-up)?! I made a spur of the moment decision to go somewhere new, to do something new…ALONE! *GASP!* I did the unimaginable for a lot of women…I walked into a room of other women (30 minutes late) for a book signing BY MYSELF.
This is shocking for a couple of reasons:
- I don’t typically go to events alone. The mall? Sure. The supermarket? Absolutely. The beach? I almost prefer being alone there. But, I don’t usually bust out the “Jenn, Party of One” at events.
- I don’t (err, didn’t) do book signings prior to last night. Concerts? Yes. Any Boston Bruins promo events or autograph opportunities? You betcha. But, not book signings.
Now, that’s not to say I have anything against people who do things solo (or people at book signings). I admire those people who can float around like a dandelion puff with not a care in the world. I am just not inherently one of those people. I am more of a pack animal by trade. I like social situations, and tend to err on the side of caution where surprises are concerned. I like being surrounded by those I know and love (and have a certain comfort level with). And, quite frankly, being alone in a very social situation where people are already paired off or grouped together makes me slightly uncomfortable. But, as anyone who knows me or “follows me” will tell you: I am on a very intense path of growth these days and a huge part of growth is doing things that might scare the pants off of you. Side note: admittedly, using last night as an example, being alone has its benefits. One of which is that it kind of gently nudges (aka forces) you to interact with people that you wouldn’t have, had you been surrounded by your old faithfuls. Being alone has a tendency to make you more receptive, and more friendly.
Because I have been on a self-imposed Facebookcation for the past 2 months, I have missed out on a lot of things this summer (so I am told). I’ve heard about births, deaths, celebrations, cookouts, vacations, and milestones second-hand, and long after the event has passed. However, the Universe sent me a subtle sign yesterday when I saw a link on Twitter to Susannah Conway‘s book signing in Boston last night. A couple spots had opened up and she was looking for takers. Last May (2011), I took Susannah’s online “Unravelling” course and it opened my eyes and opened a lot of doors — so I am a big fan. I had an appointment last night that would make it impossible to get there at the start of the event, but I thought, “What the hell, if she doesn’t mind me coming late, I will go. If she can come from England, I can drive an hour to meet some kindred spirits and hear some pearls of wisdom.” So, off I went.
The event took place in a gorgeous artist’s loft, home to the lovely and talented Susan Piver. It was a comfy event of about 25 women. The format was a very casual and intimate round-table discussion and Q+A with Susannah. The thing about this event…it was kind of what I needed. Any awkwardness I felt about walking in a room late and alone was soon replaced by warmth, honesty, and raw emotion. That’s what happens when people talk about things like unimaginable loss, the struggle to heal and become whole, unfit fathers, the beginning/middle/end of friendships, the pain that personal growth can cause (and the stress it can have on your existing relationships), being creative, following your dreams, and leaving a legacy. I was technically “alone” in that room while this whole discussion was going on…but, not really. I wasn’t alone because in one way or another, we were all kindred spirits. Whether we were connected by grief, by growth, by Susannah’s book, or her courses — we all had something in common. And, we were there for no other purpose but to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate Susannah’s success and her life journey.
That’s the kind of estrogen-fueled gathering that I can get down with! Women helping women. Women relating to (not competing against) other women. Women connecting to other women and sharing bits and pieces of themselves, without fear of being judged. Women being raw and uncensored — not for sympathy, but as a sign of empathy. Women LISTENING to one another and truly hearing. And, I met some lovely people. I had a great conversation with a group of women about common courtesy, and the fact that it is becoming extinct in our society (and Susan shared how she wrote a blog post about people not saying “hi”). I talked to an 8th grade special ed teacher about her hopes to launch a unique program for her students, as well as her love of photography and Instagram. I’d love to collaborate with her on her project. Coincidentally, I saw someone I knew and we caught up for a bit. Another group welcomed me into a conversation about the pros and cons of city vs. country living. I got to sit with Susannah for a bit as she signed my book and she is every bit as lovely and warm in person as she was on my laptop (plus, I could listen to her British accent for days).
I came home feeling happy and kind of proud of myself for going. My husband, ever supportive in my quest for betterment, told me he was proud of me and has been taking note of my changes. I get the feeling that I am inspiring him as well. That, in itself, was worth the trip because validation and praise from the ones you love is worth more than its weight in gold.
So, the bottom line is that I am growing. I am putting myself out there in ways that are a bit unconventional for me. And, I am really and truly striving to become the best version of myself possible. If I end up as a party of one at books signings because of all of this, then so be it. 🙂