The Florida Bar has launched its own health and wellness awareness initiative and it has resulted in a lot of thought about our profession, peers, clients and overall how we can make the practice of law in the State of Florida better for practitioners, while maintaining the commitment to the citizens of Florida. We, the Family Law Section, have also created an ad hoc Health and Wellness Committee, to specifically address our own members' health and wellness.
Yet, so much of these efforts focus on health, wellness, mental health and substance-related issues. While, what is also being discussed, albeit in a different way, is that female lawyers, professionals, are populating the bar leadership roles, as section chairs, as board certified lawyers, as judges and even legislators. These numbers have sky rocketed. But can woman sustain this trend of maintaining true gender equality?
To all the ladies, like Beyoncé's song--- put your hands up ... now sorry, there is no ring on it or for you, at least not from me--- but this whole ever-changing world still begs the question of why do we have to be so catty!!!?? The truth, the cattiness of these "mean girls" of all ages has pushed me, right to my Tipping Point! I don't mean my mental health or well-being is not OK, although I am confident that at times my stress level, anxiety, late nights, missing lunch and or dinner or my freak outs at the office are certainly, at times, A LOT!!!
Now for those men reading this, I am not in any way ignoring the things you deal with daily at work, at home or otherwise. I am not naïve and think that men do not struggle with the nonsense at times of jealously, envy, sabotage or lack of support from others. I am not an overly "female power" type and I absolutely do not believe that any sex, gender, age, ethnicity, background, religion or race should push any class of persons farther, solely because of any of those things. Rather, I believe qualifications, hard work, dedication and effort should be the gauge. But, unfortunately, in a world where woman are finally being treated more and more equal to men in so many arenas, some woman are also still acting like mean-girl, middle-schoolers.
Listen here--- this is our time. As a group, woman collectively rock the legal profession, The Florida Bar, politics, medicine, education, the arts and business. Now, I am far from a feminist, but I do know that the one thing that will prevent us, our entire gender, from maintaining this and sustaining these standings is our attitude.
Women can't become a truly unstoppable force for good unless we shake off an old shadow that holds us back: "how harsh we can be to one another." I call those who put others down, sabotage them, talk about them behind their backs and do not support one another--- "haters."
Think about it, who hasn't suffered the sting of a woman's snarky comment or sabotage? Or experienced the ickiness of mean-girl shunning or lie-spreading? Women heap an avalanche of abuse, discrimination and incivility on one another, from the courtroom to the PTA. Come on! We deserve better than this. We are better than this.
There's too much progress to be gained right now for women to regress into mean, middle-school girls--- especially as the girls in our lives watch and model our every move.
"There's a Wonder Woman inside every one of us," as Diane Von Furstenberg has said. Let's unleash her--- to better support one another. Let's put our hand out, leave our shoulder open for a friend in need, let's help each other, all of us--- from the northern tip of our state to the southern-most point. Jump in, lean into those tough conflicts, and stop turning against and fighting with each other.
After all the effort that went into creating this level of equality, we can't afford to fall back into outdated, destructive ways: When we hold one woman back, we hold all women back. And when we empower and support each other, we all go big. It is OUR time, to go big or go home!
Unleash the inner Wonder Woman. Express your own greatness--- don't block someone else's. Be an amazing woman. Unleash her. To do good. To give back. To teach a lesson. To be kind. To change the world. Be a superstar yourself, and you won't feel the need to tarnish others.
Behind every successful woman, there is a tribe of other successful woman who have her back.
Be that woman that empowers other women. "The strongest woman is one who builds another up, rather than tear her down!"
Look, of course, we don't have to like, agree with or be best friends with every woman. But, certainly, we can stop trash talking about other women's appearances, their parenting or even their successes. Gossiping and snarky talk can be addictive. But also destructive. Find a legit, feel-good fix. Maybe you'll need to find new friends, but first, find your own integrity.
Let's stop feeding those that glorify women being mean to other women. So many television shows, movies or talk shows air dirty laundry, hype up the sensation of women fighting, gossiping, rumor spreading, trash talking and even black-balling, sabotaging or otherwise pushing others down. Why? And at what cost?
Don't be afraid of others. Some of us fear other women, so they're scared to share their successes with them to avoid the negativity, hater mentality or competition. That's insane. Don't hold another's successes against her. When someone you know soars, it doesn't mean your wings are clipped, or that there's limited air space. We all came here to fly.
These work harder/faster times can shred us, making it all too easy to turn on one another. Slow down, breathe, and take care of yourself, even if only for a few minutes. It's soul-crushingly tough enough to get through some days. Do we really have to make it harder by crushing each other's dreams and dignity?
"Wonder Woman" is the symbol of the extraordinary possibilities that inhabit us, even if they are hidden!
Think about this: Are you done with trying to figure out who is FOR you, who is AGAINST you or who is playing the middle because they don't have the heart or strength to pick a side? Aren't you tired of it? Don't you want peace? Others' opinions are nuisances and validation is for parking! Loyalty is NOT a word, it is a lifestyle. Life is too short to leave the key to your happiness or success to someone else to protect.
Celebrate another's success, and when you do, don't question your own! Be that person that has a tribe behind you and also be a member of other's tribes!