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So I don’t know what it’s like to be a man. But I know a little something about being a woman. I’m not typically a fan of blanket generalities, of putting people into boxes and categorizing individuals by gender or race or religion. Still, indulge me. Allow me to let my hypocritical flag fly. Women are different than men. And not just in terms of our parts – or the sum of them, but at a deep, core level. If you chipped away my iceberg exterior and exposed me at my center, just before reaching the little flame of self-love that I believe we’re all born with, you’d find a bone-chilling fear.

What am I afraid of? Of not being enough.

For whom? You might ask. And of what?

But there is no logic to this terror, no target of my self-inflicted shame. Sure, I could rattle off a host of responses. I’m afraid of not being thin enough, pretty enough, young enough, smart enough, sexy enough, talented enough, successful enough… for my friends, my family, my nonexistent boyfriend, my enemies, my students, my clients, my readers, even for strangers on the street. And, most importantly, for myself. So why am I telling you this? Because I don’t think my fear is a Dara Lyons problem and I don’t think I’m alone in it. As a woman, I’ve internalized a deep inner drive to be more than what I am.

If you’ve ever listened to Brené Brown’s amazing audiobook, Men, Women, and Worthiness, and heard her describe Jennifer Beals’ famous Flashdance scene, you’ll know what I mean.

I’m not alone in my fear and this is not a new conversation. People are paying attention and talking about the devastating consequences of the impossible female standard and, while this might sound incredibly scandalous, I am of the opinion that men’s victimization of women pales in comparison to the damage that we do to ourselves and to others of our gender.

Have you ever accepted a compliment? I mean really accepted a compliment? Let it wrap around you like a blanket and comfort you to your core? Or do you negate any positive validation with negative self-talk?

Last night, I had dinner with an incredible friend who cannot see her own beauty and, as I looked at her and saw insecurity etched in every laugh line and wrinkle, self-hatred wrapped around her neck like a choker (or a noose), I thought why doesn’t she see how incredible she is? And then I thought why don’t any of us?

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