Don’t Let Good Girl Complex Hold You Back

I am sitting in my friend’s living room, cradling a cup between my palms, as my baby toddles between the women in the room.

One of these women is sharing her business dreams with us and we all nod and smile and tell her how amazing her ideas are.  We are being completely honest.  

Somewhere between the excitement and support I feel for my friend, I'm learning my own lesson about vulnerability.

My baby hands my friend a little piece of treasure found lurking by the bookcase.  She beams at him as she tells us that she’ll need to create a website, and he returns her smile with gusto.

These women are my support network; my tribe.  My children trust them innately.  And yet I shift uncomfortably, as I suddenly feel a little too hot.

I have a website.

I almost whisper it.

All eyes turn towards me and I feel my cheeks flush.  Why is this still so difficult to talk about, five years after my first post went live?

You have a website?”  Their faces are expectant.

Yeah, I write…about motherhood and stuff.

My words are full of breath and rush out of my mouth, as if trying to escape.  They are not so eloquent when spoken aloud.

These friends know and respect my values - they have watched as I’ve nursed my baby boy through every coffee morning I’ve ever shown up at.  They have picked me up when I’ve been on the floor with sleep deprivation and never once have they uttered the words “sleep train”.  They have been there with cake and tea and smiles.  I never doubted that they would welcome this news of my writing with open hearts and minds.

So if it isn’t the content of my website that causes the knot in my stomach to tighten when I’m pressed for details, what is it exactly?

I know the answer, and I don’t like it.

It isn’t what I’m writing, it’s the fact that I'm writing.

It isn’t having an opinion, it’s the fact that I’m sharing it.

It isn’t having a voice, it’s the fact that I’m using it.

Because we are conditioned, as little girls, to make apologies for having a voice.  How many of us apologised for asking questions in class, for taking up space in meetings, for having human needs?  “Good Girl Complex” is rife in our culture.  We are taught to behave ourselves, to follow the rules, to seek perfection and to avoid failure at all costs.

As women, these traits of invisibility follow us, lingering with conviction at every junction.  Yet what if we were to shake away these demons?  What if we were to risk being open and vulnerable and real?  What if we were to risk failure?

Encouraged by my friend's open authenticity and my tribe's unwavering acceptance of my written ramblings, I now plan to fail.  I plan to fail and fail again and in doing so, I plan to learn.  To grow.  To accommodate less and to take up a little more space.

This increased vulnerability takes a little getting used to, but it is incredibly freeing.  Without it, I probably wouldn't have written my self-care ebook.  I wrestled with the idea for a long time, spinning it around in my head as I contemplated how embarrassed and crushed I'd feel if nobody ever read it.

It’ll be worth it, Lou.  Even if you help just one burnt-out mum."  My friend's balanced viewpoint gets straight to the point.  “And what if you help two, or three, or more?"

As you might imagine, she was right.

Now, as I glance across at my six-year-old mini-me, I feel better-equipped to guide her through her failures, simply by risking my own.  I already see the tell-tale signs of “Good Girl Complex” weaving their way into her behaviour and yet maybe, just maybe, she can plan to fail and learn and grow alongside me.  As she watches me leap when I’m afraid to fall, perhaps she will find such freedom too.  Because really, what have we got to lose?


If you haven't already, you can fill your mommy cup and get your copy of my Self-Care For Moms ebook below: