Women of my generation were not always taught as young girls to be self-reliant but were instructed to do well in school, build a community of friends and marry well. We learned early on that boys were groomed for careers while girls were groomed to sew, cook and look nice.
The tides slowly changed after the second wave of feminism. Popular culture reflected these changes with television shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Alice and One Day at a Time where the protagonists were self-reliant women, albeit arriving there under different circumstances. They were smart, savvy ladies.
Several years ago I recall chatting with other stay-at-home moms at a book club meeting. My decision to stay home to raise our son is one I’ll never regret. During our discussion one mom, an attorney with two children who worked part time, said something I’ll never forget. She attended law school because of her grandmother’s advice: Women should work to earn their own income, depositing part of their paycheck into a bank account of their own. No woman should be fully dependent on anyone.
As much as I wanted to be self-reliant my career choices were never breadwinners. Yet raising a child and all that the “job” entailed created a fifty-fifty proposition in our home. My husband and I always saw each other as providers on an equal playing field. That is part of what makes our marriage a strong one.
“Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.” ~ Jodi Picoult, Second Glance
I also believe in the value of community, a term that morphed from like-minded people living in the same community to people finding one another on social media.
If we were all completely self-reliant there wouldn’t be a need for community, and Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest would have never survived. We wouldn’t be interested in helping, supporting and lifting each other up. A great society needs to have a strong sense of community in order to survive.
Growing up I loved having a lot of friends. During teenage angst and changing hormones my heart would sometimes get broken. Yet I always picked myself up and moved on.
“When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” ~Haruki Murakami
It’s in that heartache where important lessons are learned.
A true friend will laugh and cry with you. They’ll support you in your choices and tell you when you’re wrong. They’ll love you in your darkest and brightest moments.
And you will shine a light their way as well.
In midlife the definition of community changes. The revised definition applies to the rules of blogging as well if we want our blogs to be well-received. We seek love, support, guidance, a friendly ear, a shoulder to cry on, an honest opinion and mutual respect.
In a week filled with sadness from the passing of two giants who left us too soon I thought a lot about being self-reliant and creating community. We can’t be completely self-reliant because we all need to be part of a community, no matter what size, shape or form.
David Bowie and Alan Rickman relied on their great gifts to create the communities who mourn for them. They will forever remain in our hearts.
How are you building your community?
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