Have you found your supportive sisterhood? Guest post written by Tahlia Meredith
This year I decided to start my own business. It’s been a daunting (although incredibly exciting) couple of months as I learn all of the things you need to know to run a business ñ not to mention everything I didn’t know I needed to know!
Like the good little nerd I am, I spent the first month or so taking myself along to every workshop, training event, networking function and Meetup I could get my hands on. I love to learn and my new venture gave me the perfect excuse to soak it all in. While I now have a list of tips and ideas the length of my arm, the most valuable thing I have from a jam-packed month is not at all what I expected.
A community. And not just any community – a community of supportive, vibrant, and passionate women.
Since high school, most of my friends have been guys. It ended up this way through a combination of circumstance (in my high school class there were twice as many guys as there were girls) and compatibility; my pragmatic nature and desire for uncomplicated friendships just seems to gel better with men. Plus I learned early on that the same girl who would giggle and share secrets with you could very easily turn out to be the girl who would gossip behind your back and smoosh a lamington in your face (true story). While I don’t like to deal in stereotypes, in my experience with men what you see is most often what you get.
That isn’t to say I don’t have close girlfriends, though. There are kind, strong and beautiful (inside and out!) women that I’m blessed to count among my best friends, but unfortunately I’ve also come across many women who embody those characteristics that give us all a bad name. Women who like to manipulate. Women who will talk badly to anyone about anyone. Women who gossip and lie and play games. Women who bully and wield their power over others like a weapon. So while I noticed the lack of female energy in my life, I didn’t mind most of the time – the friends I do have are fantastic, and I wasn’t at risk of being blindsided by a two-faced so-and-so.
Except while I was protecting myself from the negative women out there, I was also inadvertently putting up a wall that kept out the great women too! I know the importance of finding your posse, but as I was busily connecting with writers, personal development junkies, business owners and other bloggers it never occurred to me that I was overlooking my biggest posse: women; and in doing so I was missing out on connecting with women who are filled with excitement, passion, and energy.
Women get women.
It might be seem redundant, but it’s true. Being more practical, when presented with a problem men are wired to find a solution fast so we can all stop talking about it.
But get together with your girlfriends and you can examine a problem for hours if that’s what you need. We love to analyse and speculate, explore the possible motivations behind a person’s behaviour, or wonder at what they’ll say if you take a particular course of action.
Not to mention the inherent empathy you feel for other women because, well, you’ve been there. My best guy friend doesn’t know what it feels like to cry at work because I was angry and for some reason that made my eyes start leaking, but odds are another woman knows what it’s like when you cry at exactly the wrong time – and you can’t stop it!
… and businesswomen get businesswomen.
My friends have been wonderfully supportive of my new adventures in business and blogging, but try as they might, they don’t really get it. They’re excited when things go well, but they can’t really offer advice when I have challenges or want to brainstorm ways to grow my business.
Turns out this is my favourite thing about networking and masterminds – other women in business understand what I’m facing, particularly as a woman. Take selling and self-promotion – we tend to feel icky about it and talk ourselves down. This video from Denise Duffield-Thomas, outlining the differences between how men and women sell, is funny and scarily accurate!
When I spoke to a guy friend about it recently, he didn’t really understand my hesitation. “Just pick up the phone and cold call some people,” he advised, oblivious to the terror in my eyes, but my new friend Katie got it – and she helped me by promoting my business in her networks, so I didn’t have to.
Girls just wanna support you.
*cue Cindy Lauper* When the right women get together to talk about what’s important, the energy is buoyant and inspiring. The women I’ve met through networking and masterminds are supportive and excited for one another. We brainstorm problems we face and together work towards solutions.
These women genuinely want to help one another and expect nothing in return. They know that what goes around comes around and will freely offer some advice because they know when I discover a rad new productivity app I’ll be sending it their way. Even when our businesses and goals are different there is a sense we’re all in it together, the importance of which cannot be understated.
Find your sisterhood.
While these encounters have been specific to my situation as a new business owner, the sisterhood I found is not unique. When you get out there and find your community, whether it’s bloggers or designers or book club members or a wine-tasting Meetup, simply being around positive and inspiring women will lift you, too.
Women who are excited about their lives have a passion and an energy that is contagious so make sure you have plenty in your life!
Tahlia Meredith is a virtual assistant and a lifestyle blogger who loves to find ways to make life easier so you can make life awesome-er. When she’s not being a crazy cat lady you’ll find her conquering Melbourne’s cafés, one flat white at a time.