Forbes released its annual list of Most Powerful Women this week and I read it like a giddy second grader whose class list has just been posted. I love to cheer on these astonishingly accomplished women as they soar to unprecedented heights. But this year, in addition to devouring their stories and allowing them to inspire my own dreams, I found myself wrestling with a second set of emotions.
My dilemma began when I read this opening paragraph to the Forbes list. “From CEOs and heads of state to early adopter entrepreneurs, celebrity role models, billionaire activists and philanthropists who are healing the world, Forbes ranks the women who matter most.” Hmm. The women who matter most? Now that sentence I did not find inspiring at all.
Here’s why. I have no argument with the fact that these women matter. But do they matter the most? Yes, they are working their proverbial bottoms off to create businesses, cure diseases, transform entertainment and eradicate social issues. And I wish to take nothing away from Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, or even Lady Gaga, when I say that they simply do not “matter the most.” Accomplished? Yes. Amazing? Yes. Admirable? Yes. But to say they matter most sets powerful wheels of self-doubt in motion for too many of us. And I just can’t have that getting in the way of our ability to thrive. Getting caught up in comparing our own accomplishments to those of these women (and feeling we come up short because they matter most) doesn’t serve us one little bit.
Do you know who matters most? You do. You, in all your normal, busy, invisible, messy, imperfect glory. You, who wakes up every day to give your all to whatever lies before you. You, who makes the special lunch and writes the special note to your anxious 3rd grader. You who stays up late prepping for the big meeting so your team will shine. You, who sits with your dog during surgery and takes the day off to be with her during recovery. You, who volunteers to hand-sew sit-upons with a rowdy Brownie Troop after your own long day. You, who reads every parenting book ever written to put an end your son’s tantrums. You who patiently lifts yourself out of debt one foregone latte at a time.
You matter as much as any woman on any list ever written. You, who takes your own mother to every doctor’s appointment and picks up medicines and buys easy-to-zip clothes and alarm clocks with big numbers. You, who brings a hot meal to the friend who just had a mastectomy. You, who remembers every birthday and anniversary with the perfect card sent across the miles. You who campaigns tirelessly for the candidate you believe in. You, who teaches geometry to a room full of 10th graders every single day. You who has survived bouts of depression or years of infertility or the loss of a child and gone on to find a way to smile again. You matter most.
Just thought I’d clear that up. Because while I love to see accomplished women making their mark on the world in a big way, if you’re looking for the woman who matters most, just look in the mirror. That’s where you’ll find her.