As we sat for brunch to celebrate a friend’s future marriage, I admired all of the women around me. We were all there to laud the journey that our friend was about to begin and share in her excitement, but I was slightly distracted—fascinated actually—by the lives of all of my friends. As I looked around the room, I realized how accomplished and beautiful each of these women were. It’s really easy to look at the lives of others and wish that I had the same talents, chosen their career, or received their particular gifts. However, it’s also very important to assess my own life and recognize that I too have things that are particular to me, as a woman. As I looked at each of the women in my life, I found that I wanted to grow in my own identity. Spending time with my friends that morning helped me to recognize how unique each woman is.
One woman was serving in the military and was a wife and new mother. Another had just finished a doctoral degree, another was studying for a doctorate in nursing, and others were flourishing as wives, mothers, sisters, and friends. Although I sat beside some highly educated and talented women, I was more impressed by their kindness, beauty, selflessness, and their individual quirkiness that made them each a unique blessing in my life.
As a woman, I feel as though I am constantly bombarded with subliminal messages about the importance of flashy beauty, the perfect body, and competing with other women to get where I want to be. I also feel pressure from family and friends to get married, because time is passing and I am not getting any younger. Living in today’s society can be difficult, especially for women. Of course I want to figure out my “place” in the world and I desire beauty—but I don’t desire the false beauty that most of the culture is offering me when it only focuses on my outward appearance.
I often reflect on my life and question why I am not currently pursuing another degree, purchasing a home, or chasing after a romantic dream. It’s very easy to look at my day- to-day, mundane events and see life as boring or insignificant. But even the most educated, highly influential, courageous women experience times of stagnation and periods of dullness in life. It is during these times when perseverance is all the more necessary. In the workplace, at home, within friendships and dating relationships, it’s important to work on building character so that we can each be the best version of ourselves. Life may seem like a series of peaks and valleys, but I believe the most beautiful, well-lived lives are actually those who take one day at a time and see even the smallest things as gifts, blessings, and opportunities for growth. In my opinion, some of the most incredible and wise women whom I have been privileged to know are those who simply pursue the day that lies before them. We may be called to become CEO’s of companies, skilled doctors or nurses, highly qualified teachers, and “superwoman” mothers, but in order to accomplish these dreams, we need to begin at the bottom: working to be the best we can be every day.
Sitting with my friends that morning, I realized that I don’t need to compete with the world, or even the friend sitting next to me. I don’t need to be in competition with anyone. What I have been given is good and I am grateful for authentic female friendships, and the ordinary gifts of daily life that add up to make me the best version of myself.