If you haven’t read part 1 of this post, I urge you to do so (here), because it sets the scene. We are talking about the phrase ‘a woman of substance’ and here is what it means to me-
A woman of substance is kind. But in the face of unkindness (for lack of a better word), she stands up for herself. Because kindness and compassion should be extended to everyone, yourself included. I put this right at the top of the list because being kind and good to yourself is so important. I always think of the airplane and oxygen masks analogy- place a mask over your head/face and then assist others. If you are happy, you are going to be of more help to others anyway.
She understands that everyone’s journey is unique and does not judge herself or others based on a ‘one size fits all’ philosophy. There truly is no ‘one’ way- whether you choose sciences or the arts (hard to believe that it’s a theme that still comes up in conversations!), whether you work outside the home or raise a family or both, work part time or full time, whether your kids go to private or public school (a favorite topic here in the Bay area), whether you had it easy or had one too many troubles, and on and on- there is no ‘one’ way. Each way is unique to that person. A woman of substance understands and respects that and leaves judgement at the door. This is easy to say but it’s when you practice it, that you realize how important it is – every moment gives you an opportunity to learn more and judge less and we come away infinitely richer. She also doesn’t compare her journey and decisions to others’ more ‘ideal’ paths because she understands that all of us are faced with different choices and situations.
This last one to me is so important and, in my opinion, the hallmark of a woman of substance. A woman of substance respects another persons’ dreams. In no particular order, you may want to be the best parent to your kids, set up a construction company, be a stay at home parent, be a musician, blazon a trail as a scientist or engineer, travel, meditate, set up a pioneering lab, your own jewelry line, be an avante-garde artist, open a bakery or become a writer or be a nomad. Each one of us dances to a different tune. She has her own dreams and as a friend, she will point out the pros and cons of your dream, how doable it is, the challenges and triumphs, and the sheer amount of work that it may entail. She recognizes the vulnerability and courage that it takes for a person to just share the dream with her, let alone go after it. She is mindful of her responsibility as a friend- to support the pursuit of dreams and anchor them in reality. Now, we all do this for our friends, our girl gang and tribe, but what if we extended this courtesy, gift or whatever you may call it, to all those that cross our path and accord us the honor of sharing their dreams? That to me is a woman of substance.
It’s important and noteworthy to point out that among the women I talked to, no one listed financial status as a criterion for being a woman of substance. I will be back with Part 3 where artist Chandrika Marla talks about her ‘woman of substance’. Have a great day!
Image credits: Studio OUATT/ if you are curious about the metal queen figurine, it’s a Dhokra art metal queen vase (literally, a figurehead!!)