The ramblings that appear when I'm driven to write what's in my head, rather than what's in someone else's.
“You go, girl!”
It’s a phrase of encouragement, of support, of faith.
It’s also too easy to say. It has become something we say when we don’t want to put the work into an intelligent, well-thought-out response, when we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, when we need to be supportive. We blurt it out without questioning what we’re encouraging, what we’re supporting, whether our faith is properly placed.
We’ve created a sisterhood of “you go, girl.” We feel like we need to stick together, no matter what. That because I’m a woman I owe it to other women to see only the good, to build up, to support all ideas, because–let’s face it–those bastards will tear us down. The rest of the world is against us, and we are women! Hear us roar!
You go, girl!
We need fewer catch-phrases and more questions.
Say a woman tells her female friends she wants to start a business.
“You go, girl!”
That’s fantastic. I hope she makes a brilliant success of it. But as a friend, or someone she wants feedback from, I owe it to her to ask a few questions. “Is it financially viable?” “What will it cost your family in terms of both your time and money?” “Will it create hardships in your relationships?” “Do you know what it’s going to take to make this successful?” “Are you emotionally stable enough to handle failure?”
Say a woman confides, “I’m thinking of leaving my husband. He just doesn’t understand my dreams. He never helps out around the house or with the kids and he expects me to do everything.”
“You go, girl!”
What about these questions? “Is there anything else going on in your life or your husband’s life that could be contributing to your feelings?” “Have you talked to your husband about how you’re feeling?” “Have you tried looking at your situation objectively, and made sure there’s nothing you’re doing that’s creating more distance and resentment?” “Are you really prepared, and do you have a realistic idea of what your life, your husband’s life, and your kids’ lives will look like if you end your marriage to pursue your dreams?”
These aren’t negative questions, though some may view the asker as a nay-sayer. I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t care, not only about my female friend, but about her husband, children, parents and future–all things SHE should be caring about. I’m not asking those questions because I think she’s stupid, because I don’t think she can do it, because I think she’s inferior, because I don’t think she deserves respect and support.
I’m asking those questions because it’s likely that no one else is. Because as a human–not just a woman–I know how easy it is to lose perspective. I know what it’s like to seek out the answers I want to hear. I know what unconditional support is, and how dangerous it can be.
We want to surround ourselves with starry-eyed, can-do friends. And we should. But we also need to make sure our friends are strong enough and smart enough to ask the hard questions. And we need to make sure we’re strong enough to hear the answers.
By the way, yes, I would ask the same questions if a man told me of the same plans.
We’ve traded accountability for support, wisdom for wishes, honesty for acceptance.
It’s time to face it–support isn’t always what we need. Sometimes we need that friend who will make us question ourselves, who will tell us we’re being selfish, that our life isn’t all about what makes us happy.
To be continued…