by Rebekah L. Pierce
I am a businesswoman, mother, teacher, writer, wife, sister, inventor, speaker, auntie, and friend – a modern-day “Superwoman,” according to many in our society. This is how women of the 21st Century are touted, right? We are everything to everyone at all times. And at one point in my life – like when I was in my early 20s – I thought I was Superwoman, and wore my cape with pride. But then something happened to me in 2007. I discovered that I had put 50 extra pounds on my 5’2.5” frame from eating unhealthily and not exercising properly, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown from the stress of this image I had created – taken on.
Flash forward three years later and the truth of my existence has finally brought me to my knees – financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I am NOT Superwoman. Nor do I wish to be any form of a superwoman. The truth of the matter is that we as women are killing ourselves in wearing the red cape: how fitting that it should be red, too, as more women die of heart disease each year than men.
When I made the decision to quit my job as Superwoman and turn in my cape, I did so for the following three reasons. And I want you to read them closely as you might see someone else in them: You!
1. No Time for Laughter
Because I was so busy being here and there for everyone else, I did not have the time to sit back and laugh at the absurdities of life, mainly myself. Not only is laughter good for the soul but for our health. Research shows that laughter is good for the heart in that it “improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems” (http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm). It also boosts our immune systems and is as the old saying goes, laughter is contagious. Our children watch us; we are their biggest model for living. If they never see us laughing and enjoying our existence, then guess what we are teaching them? I did not want this kind of living for my then 1-year-old daughter.
2. Spiritually Disconnected
No matter what you call the energy that is the foundation of our existence – I call him God or the Divine – we disconnect ourselves from that grounding – that center – when we begin to believe and act as if we can do everything ourselves. NO! That’s a lie our ego feeds us in order to keep us trapped in fear. Because women are historically the center of their families and community, when we are disconnected from our spirits – the Divine – it opens the door to destructive behaviors and events, like my bad eating habits. I also relate this to legacy. What do I want my legacy to be? Of working so hard, I put myself in the ground early, never having laughed or enjoyed my children, my friends, or my work. All that my children and friends will be able to say about me at my funeral is that I worked hard. Do you want that for your life? Ladies, we must learn to live in the present moment – it is a gift. We must reconnect.
3. I Lost Me
In trying to be everything to everyone at all times, I lost sight of who I was – what I wanted for my life. I became what everyone else wanted me to be. Sometimes, at night, when I lay in my bed, I’d cry. Who was there for me? I’d hidden myself so deeply in this image of a superwoman that I had no one to turn to when I needed to cry or vent or laugh. I was undone, and I had no one to blame but myself for falling for the lie that I could do anything and everything because I was a modern woman – not like the women of my mother’s generation who gave up their identity and sense of self for a man as so many women of my generation tried to argue. No! I was Superwoman! And I was paying the price for it.
In 2010, I quit being Superwoman for these three main reasons. I turned in my cape. I owed it to myself more than anything to live authentically and in my purpose. I could not do this wearing that cape – that disguise. I am still a businesswoman and all of the above, but my top priority is me now. I have learned to say no and not feel guilty. I have learned to make room in my busy schedule to relax, meditate and reconnect to my spiritual center. But more importantly, I have learned to turn away from the distractions of life and laugh with my children. I am living in the moment.
I encourage you to look closely at how you are living and operating in it. Do you need to quit, too?
Rebekah L. Pierce is the author of Kryptonite Killed Superwoman: Turning in the Cape for an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Life. She is also an inspirational speaker and playwright residing in Richmond, Virginia.