Why Embracing Your Feminine Side May Be the Secret to Breaking the Glass Ceiling
When I first started doing events in New York City, I held an event with another female entrepreneur—a startup investor primarily investing in female founders—that catered primarily to female entrepreneurs. These were all strong, powerful women in corporate entrepreneurship, the type of women used to existing in a man’s world, and I remember pointing out that while Fran works with men all of the time, she’s definitely a woman who operates out of her feminine side.
Now, I don’t mean to say that she’s someone who wears floral dresses to work instead of business suits—there’s definitely nothing wrong with either—but she is a prime example of a woman in the world, owning her worth, who refuses to be intimidated by any man. Over the course of the evening, what we uncovered is that it’s time to stop operating as a woman in a man’s world—where you’ve got to prove yourself—and instead, sit in full certainty and belief in your value.
For many women, however, embracing your feminine energies is scary. I’ve worked with countless clients who have said, “Oh my god, how am I supposed to show up in my job and in the boardroom,” but, in reality, this is a strategy that will help them do better in the boardroom, leading to pay raises, promotions, job offers and more—because when you embody and harness this side of yourself, it’s not only unapologetic, it’s also approachable, present and undeniably magnetic.
It’s About Learning to Release the Fear and Embrace Vulnerability
Whether we’re talking about your career, your friendships or your love life, many women approach it from a place of “not enough-ness.” Instead of trusting our worth, we inadvertently undervalue it. The hustle and the grind—which often mask fear and uncertainty—are less about doing what we want and more about proving ourselves because we feel we have to.
As a result, many women tend to overcommit themselves. And despite all of that effort, unfortunately, many struggle to see the pay off. We push ourselves harder, we send out more resumes, we spend more time on LinkedIn—anything to avoid the conversation that, maybe instead of doing all of this extra work, it’s time for us to address our own inherent sense of self-worth.
I had a client who was terrified of embracing her feminine energy. She had big goals, and she wanted to be the vice president of the company where she worked. Instead of making her job harder, however, learning to embrace vulnerability—stepping into her own worth—made it much easier. And as a result? She made VP exactly a year after our first phone call, to the very day.
You Have to Learn to Stop Leaving Yourself at the Door
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to embracing your feminine side and learning to accept vulnerability is to stop holding yourself back. It’s not just about believing in yourself and pushing forward, it’s also about being unapologetically you. We try to keep bits of ourselves hidden because we’re afraid of how people will react, but—in reality—people respond incredibly well to vulnerability.
Instead of viewing those things you’re afraid to share as obstacles—whether it’s a struggle with anxiety or a keen sense of humor—try reframing them as opportunities. They make you unique, they make you stand out and they draw people to you.
I think this is why people connect to Michelle Obama more strongly than to Hillary Clinton, for example. These are both strong, independent female leaders, but with Michelle Obama, you truly get a sense of her heart. You really connect to who she is, to what she’s passionate about, and she isn’t afraid to share her struggles and insecurities. Instead of being a weakness, her vulnerability is a superpower.
Give Yourself Permission to Do What Feels Right for You
Instead of hustling, we need more women to learn to embrace flow. It’s about connecting with your intuition and instincts, so you can trust yourself fully, and—once you do that—releasing the impulse to push yourself to the brink of burnout and beyond. Our culture tends to view exhaustion as a badge of honor, but when you’re operating at that level, you’re not just hurting yourself, you’re hurting your ability to do great work. Man or woman, if we’re not getting the rest we need, we can’t show up to serve our clients in the way they deserve. And in the end? Our mental health, our careers and our futures all suffer as a result.
When it comes down to it, embracing your feminine side isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. Whether you want to smash through the glass ceiling or find the love of your life, vulnerability makes you more successful—not less—and learning to be your unapologetic self is more than just magnetic, it’s life-changing. And once you embrace that power, it shows up everywhere.
Lucy Shahjahan is the founder of Soul to Soul Global and author of Don’t Sh*t In My Vortex (January 28, 2021). An expert on love and relationships, her passion is helping high-achieving single women embody their feminine power, connect with their true selves and attract their soulmate relationship in the process—all in a matter of months. You can follow her on Instagram at @lucyshahjahan.