The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (Proverbs 14:1)
I used to find it easy to convince myself that I was the first woman in this proverb. I was self-made! I was building my “house” and no one could stop me! In hindsight, I realize that for a long time, that attitude was just pride making up for the actual insecurity I had in my own unique purpose. I wasn’t sure that what I had to offer in originality would ‘make the cut’ for the goals and dreams I had. In fact, I was actually the second woman, because while I believed I was pushing forward with sheer determination, I was so busy comparing myself to others who had gone before me, or to other women who are peers in my industry. Foolishly, I saw their accomplishments as things to out-do. While they succeeded doing certain things I wasn’t doing, I found myself ignoring my own accomplishments, and wasted hour upon hour trying to do what they were doing, that I wasn’t, assuming I needed to “do that too” (whatever that was) to be successful.
If you see life as objective, and every person as an architect, then the objective, or purpose, of life is to build your house. In this proverb, I was the second woman. Foolishly, I didn’t see that no matter how much I strained, I would never realize my own purpose or reach my own potential by trying to copy and paste the lives of my peers and mentors into my own story. All that did was cultivate a competitive, jealous, aggressive, and toxic heart, which in turn seeped into other areas of my life in the form of gossip, envy, or even silence (for example, I’d simply avoid sharing comments or compliments that would encourage or ‘edify’ industry peers and mentors because I ‘had to’ have the ‘advantage’). I’m gonna go out on a limb here and just say that those are not character traits you want when you’re entire career goal is to inspire and empower the masses. Just saying. They are, however, symptoms of a very clouded perspective on life. I wasn’t building my house. I was tearing it down.
Note: The problem isn’t in emulating a role model, following in the footsteps of a mentor, or someone you admire; it’s in the destructive mindset that sometimes accompanies those good intentions, which keeps you from realizing your own potential and discovering your own unique purpose.
So what did I do? First of all, I prayed for wisdom, and when I prayed for wisdom, I didn’t yet realize everything I just shared with you. I was still under the impression that my way was ‘working’ and I didn’t need any direction. But it wasn’t. I was frustrated by my efforts that I began realizing were in vain. I became exhausted and it became difficult to stay motivated. But my prayer was answered and slowly the cloud lifted. I won’t go into detail because I’m not writing this in order that you pray for wisdom so that all your struggles vanish, your path is laid out clearly in front of you, and all your worries and anxieties dissipate. I am, however, sharing this with you so that you understand that it’s a process, and see that it’s in this struggle; it’s in this transition from Woman Number Two, to Woman Number One that you’re being refined. Just like iron sharpens iron; diamonds are formed under great pressure; and pearls are created by the irritation of unpleasant circumstances, you can become your most beautiful self through trial and challenge
Everyone has days of insecurity. Everyone feels ‘not good enough’ at times. But that’s a lie. That’s a lie to keep you from realizing your true purpose. Want the truth? You were created by God, who loves you, and you have been uniquely gifted with certain talents, and insights, and wisdom, and a way to see the world that nobody else on the planet has, or ever has had, or ever will have because you are unique. As soon as you realize that, you’ll be able to change the world.
Even if you can’t see it now, even if you never see it yourself, you’re here for a reason. I want you to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Own it. Believe it. Trust it. You are beautiful, unique, gifted, and nothing anybody says, or nothing you think will ever change that. The world needs your individuality. It also needs the positivity that comes from a woman who knows her value and understands the truth that she has something special that no one else can offer… herself.
You see, we all have unique talents and abilities, and dreams and goals, but what is the point of reaching those goals if only to reach them? The beauty lies not only in the accomplishment of a goal (because you realized your potential to get there), but in the process of sharing your gifts with others and inspiring them to do the same along the way; the secret isn’t in discovering what you were meant to do, but in how you let God develop your character along the way. Ironically, that has nothing to do with personal betterment or ‘self-improvement,’ but it has everything to do with the encouraging, serving, and building up of others, especially those you may have seen as your competition before. Therein lies the irony. Because in building up, encouraging, blessing and loving others, you not only stop tearing your own house down, you start to rebuild it. And in the whole messy process, you become a better you.
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – M. Williamson
Now, spend some time reflecting on this. Ask yourself, “which woman am I right now?” and “which woman am I becoming?”. Then remember that there is only one you, and only one person who can do what you do the way you do it. Comparing yourself to others only reveals your own fear and insecurity, and will only delay you reaching your potential, and hurt others in the process. So instead, embrace your individuality, and shine, baby, shine!