“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”– Marie Curie
I was having lunch with a friend recently, and she said something shocking, but in my heart, I knew it was true. She said the glass ceiling is a myth that we have all decided to believe in, and if we wanted something deeply enough, we would push with all our might right past it without ever knowing it was there. It was a difficult pill to swallow because I had used that excuse many times in my life when things were hard. There had to be a reason why I couldn’t get to where I wanted, and it was much easier to blame it on external circumstances than to realize that maybe I didn’t want it badly enough. There is an age-old adage that what you think about, you bring about. Is it possible that we have accepted the notion of a “glass ceiling” instead of deciding that wasn’t going to stop us no matter what? Imagine what we could do if we just let go of that idea altogether. How differently would we show up to life?
It reminds me of a time when I was sitting in a conference for women in nonprofit leadership. My campaign for Congress had just ended, and the organizer invited me to participate and share my experience. That was the last thing I wanted to do. To stand up among these incredible women and tell my story of how I got kicked to the curb by the political process was not something I was excited to admit. I was feeling awful about myself and happened to look down at the floor to blink away a few tears. It was an unusual floor…transparent, to be exact. When I blinked again, I realized that the floor below me was glass…which meant the ceiling on the level below was also glass. I was on top of the glass ceiling and didn’t even know it! Suddenly my humor kicked in, and I heard the phrase from one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It was up to me to decide to keep going and not let anything set me back.
The events in our lives, especially if you want to change the world, will have an impact on shaping us in the process. The trials and tribulations are part of what makes it worth the fight because that is what polishes us to shine and pushes us forward. We can also decide to let those things push us back. It is our choice. It is so easy to shift the blame on something outside of ourselves and to let that hold us back from ever reaching our dreams. It is also is so disempowering to hold that thought. There is always a way if we are willing to persevere until we get to where we want…or maybe one door closed so that we would find the route to lead us to where we will have a more significant impact. Again, we have that most-powerful choice!
There are things we don’t get to control. Horrible things happen to many of us in life that can rock us to the core. Being assaulted, abused, injured, diagnosed with a challenging illness, or taken advantage of can quench your spirit. It seldom makes sense why these things happen. However, it can also fuel the flame of why you feel passionate about making things different. It can be the rock that you stand upon to reach the next level on your journey. One of my favorite movie lines is from Dirty Dancing, “No one puts Baby in the corner!” We have to find the courage within ourselves to step out on the stage of our life once again. Most importantly, we can also stand with each other in encouragement and love…reminding each other of our power despite the circumstances. That can make an incredible difference!
Growing up in a male-dominated household in a family with very traditional views, I let so much of that ideology hold me back over the years as if I wasn’t enough. But that was my choice to believe that, and it was my choice to stand up for what I believe. Has it been easy? Heck no! It is not a comfortable feeling to go against the grain when you are judged and criticized. You will hear that every time you fall is because you didn’t stick to the norms. But the last thing that I want to be remembered as is normal or someone who holds with the status quo. I know things need to change in our world, and every day I ask how I may be of service to making a better world. That cannot and will not happen if I let imaginary ideologies like a “glass ceiling” hold me back. And just like my earlier experience, perhaps if we take a second look, we might discover we have been on top of it all along. We can do what we need to do! We have to keep moving and believing we will accomplish what we came here to do…and as we take one step every day, we bring all of humanity toward a brighter future.