Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our core conversation, “Extraordinary Women Change the World.” In our last post, Ev’Yan discussed her mission to open up the conversation about sexuality to empower all of us. Today, our own Lisa Wood talks about discovering her voice and empowerment outside of the experts.
On a hot summer day in August, my first child was born. He was a beautiful, perfect baby boy. I had no idea how much he would change my life.
I was a young mom, completely unsure of myself and not really knowing how to do this whole “mommy thing”. I had read every parenting book and magazine known to man, soaking in every bit of guidance I could. I wanted desperately to do everything right, but I had no idea what that even was.
My son had severe colic and seemingly never slept. Of course, everyone around me had an opinion. “You should wrap him like this, change him this way, don’t give him a pacifier, change his formula, hold him this way, burp him that way, and whatever you do, don’t forget to…”
It was never-ending. Though veiled with the best of intentions, the barrage of advice made me doubt my ability to care for my own child. I didn’t trust my instincts. I couldn’t even hear my own voice.
All I could hear were the “experts” telling me I was doing it all wrong.
So I taught myself how to do all the things I thought I needed to. I made him homemade clothes and baby food, took him on play dates, and enrolled him in baby swimming lessons. I was the epitome of super mom, but I still never felt like it was enough. I was still terrified that I would ruin him.
Fast forward two years, we had a new baby – a girl – and my husband and I moved our little family to Vermont. Scary as it was, it turned out to be the best thing we could have done. We chose to make a new life and write our own next chapter.
As the children grew, I slowly started to trust my own judgement. It was clear that they were happy, healthy, and well-grounded. Even in their teen years, they weren’t rebelling like I did at their age. They were thriving.
That’s when I realized that we hadn’t ruined them. We were actually doing a damn good job.
Did we have the secret to parenting figured out? Not by a long shot. We simply stayed true to ourselves and did what we thought was right. We talked honestly to our children (and still do). We let them see us laugh and cry – at our best and our worst. When we had to say “no,” we took the time to explain why. We never pulled rank or argued “because I said so.” They grew up knowing that we were in their corner, no matter what.
They’ve taught us just as many life lessons as we have taught them, and through it all we were just being ourselves.
A New Chapter
Well, that tiny, colicky baby boy graduated from college the other day. I’m not sure how it happened, but overnight he turned into a man. He’s a brilliant, handsome, amazing person, and I’m so incredibly proud of him. He’s doing great things, despite the current challenges in our world.
My daughter just finished her first year of college. She is strong and secure. She’s everything I hoped she’d be, and more. I wanted her to have what I never did growing up – that ability to hold her head high and be proud of who she is – not feeling like she always had to conform to someone else’s expectations and rules.
So what does my story have to do with empowerment? Everything.
My husband and I empowered ourselves to raise our children the way we felt was right. And by treating them with respect, we had empowered them to be the best that they could be. We helped them see that being yourself is pretty damn amazing.
You can do it, too, and it’s not just limited to family.
Ignore the “experts”
How many times have you compared yourself to someone else and thought, “Oh, they’re doing that so much better than me – I should be doing that?” Or the “experts” tell you that you have to do X, Y, Z if you ever want to succeed. You should write an e-book, post twice a day, sell your soul to the social media gods, blah blah blah.
What makes these “experts” so much better than you? The fact that they have a $5,000 e-course? Been published? Have 10 million followers? Meh.
When I started my business I believed that I had to be just like “them” I read everything I could get my hands on – blog posts, e-books, “how-to” courses, etc. After a while I realized I didn’t really need any of it, and I started to think for myself again.
Comparing yourself to others and chasing shiny objects will kill your business and suck the life out of you.
The more you try to be like someone else, the worse off you will be. You’ll stress yourself out, and lose your ability to hear your own voice. And your readers? They’re smart. If you’re just playing a part, they will eventually sniff you out.
You don’t need someone else to empower you. It doesn’t work that way. You have that power already.
Believe in yourself, trust your gut, and do what you feel is right. Reach deep inside and take time to listen to what your heart is telling you.
Then do that.
About Lisa: Lisa Wood is the Visual Coordinator at Productive Flourishing. With a background in business and a flair for design, Lisa is an uncommonly intuitive designer, as committed to educating clients about their sites as she is designing them. You can also find her at Sprout New Media and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.