When I think of the women I admire, and aspire to be, I think of women who fill a room with their presence, who laugh loud, speak up and engage people.
Women want to be their friend, men want to…well, be their friend, because why the hell wouldn’t they?!
These women – the ‘together women’ as I call them – have their shit together. They are smart, talented, witty and confident. They don’t fall when they stumble, they keep going on their way. They brush off adversity, and they power through from dreams to doing, to find success and achievement and reach their goals. They don’t think “I wish” and sit back down, they get up and go.
I have these women in my life. I love them with a fierce flame, and feel grateful to have their influence in my life.
I was raised around these women – the strong, successful women who influence the world around them; who change lives, with passion and fight, or with a kind of inner peace that spreads by osmosis. Women who make the people close to them want to be the best version of themselves.
I am friends with these women; I draw them around me like a safety blanket of power and good. Of strength and kindness. Gentle but immense.
I also know that the ‘together’ that I see, admire and aspire to isn’t the version of themselves that they see.
Where I see a confident woman who strides into a room, fills it with warmth and draws everyone to her, I also know that before the door opened she was taking deep breaths and clenching her hands together, psyching herself up first.
Where I see a smart, witty, brilliant woman heading a growing business empire and attracting all the right attention for the success she so very much deserves, I also see someone who has questioned her decisions over and over and worried she’d fall – but who loved what she was doing enough to never give up.
And the older I get, the more I realise that for every moment in which the together girl truly has all her shit together, there are many more moments in which she’s trying to, failing to and salvaging the pieces that survived the last drop from the mountain top. For every perfectly groomed moment played out to the crowd, there’s the sweaty palmed anxiety behind the scenes.
I’ve also realised that for every moment I am panicking that someone might see through my facade to the angsty, madly paddling wannabe I see in the mirror, there’s someone who sees me stride into a room with my bright lipstick, big smiles and a firm handshake – and buys into it.
For all the times I’ve looked at those other women and dreamed of one day being who they are, perhaps I’ve missed that I already am – and that these snatched moments of appearing to be a together girl is all we get?
If we can walk the walk and talk the talk, and we can make that room full of people think we have our shit together, are we already there?
Whether it’s true or not, I feel far more like a true together girl when the lipstick goes on.
I threw up before I went, and had been awake most of the night with stomach cramps and anxiety. He had absolutely no idea that I’d cried for an hour before I did my make up – purely because I had never bought a car from a dealership before!
I knew my anxiety was ridiculous – but buying this car shows how far my life has come in the past two years, from a position where I was feeling completely lost, in a financial hole and believed I had no way out, to sitting down and making a plan, and sticking to it for two years, building up a business from nothing, clearing debts and improving my credit, all very boring and grown up things, and achieving it.
So many times I have doubted myself, my abilities to do any of this, whether I’d ever make anything of myself.
And here I am. My business is going great, I support myself and my children and have a comfortable life, we have a nice home, we do fun things, they get new clothes when they need them – I’m not wealthy of course and the clothes are generally from Tesco, but still!
And I can see all of that and take pride in it – but I still have moments when I feel like the broken shell who was lost all that time ago, and have to remind myself that she’s gone.
I am the lipstick wearing, room filling smile with a firm handshake. I am a together girl. I am that woman.
When I need to be.