Have you ever been given the advice not to meet your hero? Don't approach your favorite celebrity, athlete or author --because they will never live up to the idealistic version of them you have created in your head??
I've heard it.
But I choose not to believe it.
You see. I've met two of my (S)HERO's now. One in person, one via conference call.
When I met Emily Greener (co-founder of my life preserver, I AM THAT GIRL), I felt heard, supported and inspired. At that point in my life, I had been writing for IATG for a year as a blogger, and had launched 2 chapters at that time, but Emily and I had never truly interacted other than a short conversation via skype. When we met, she walked right up to me, a virtual stranger, hugged me, looked me in the eyes and said, "I know you," with the most incredibly genuine smile. It was remarkable. She did know me. Because, like every other girl who finds the opportunity to meet someone they admire, I wanted to know her heart, what made her tick and how she felt about life. She gifted me with the knowledge of those things. Part of the way through our conversation she looked at me with curious eyes and asked, "Do you want to have kids?" Now, even though I'm of child bearing age, I am CRAZY single!! So, I laughed a bit and I smiled at her, informing her that I did in fact want to have kids some day. She shook her head in the most loving way and said, "I bet you'll be a great mom." I'm not sure if I can accurately explain how that comment made me feel. How does any compliment from your hero resonate? I was on top of the world with that, and so grateful for the opportunity to learn from and grow with this beautiful woman for the next 24 hours. It was a dream.
Tonight I heard the words of Emily's partner in crime, Alexis Jones. Alexis is now the chairwoman of the board of IATG, but is also Emily's co-founder. I used the term "life preserver" previously when referring to IATG because this organization has not only saved me from drowning, it has also continued to keep me afloat. Alexis joined our monthly leader call tonight, and it was the first time in my years with IATG that I've had the privilege of hearing her speak live. I'm not sure there are enough words in the English language to accurately describe how deeply I felt everything this woman said. She was authentic, she was real, she was vulnerable... everything she has taught us to be. She was absolutely everything I would have expected, and yet my mind is completely blown. I learned, that this woman who I have spent the better part of 3 years admiring is far more like me than I ever would have assumed. We have similar personalities traits and quirks. We handle our stress and anxiety in exactly the same way. We struggle with some of the same insecurities, and we have very VERY similar passions in life.
I'm not sure if I can adequately express what it is like to come to the realization that your heros are more like you that you could have ever dreamed... but it has my heart feeling all kinds of feels tonight. I AM THAT GIRL is setting new standards for how women treat themselves and each other. I am beside myself that I have chosen two role models who are living proof that hard work, perseverance, big dreams and a kind heart can get you exactly where you want to go. There are no other words for these beauties... just a sigh of gratitude for stumbling across a tweet a few years back about some bad ass ladies who were marching to Washington. At a time when I needed them most... they were there for me, and they still are. Now, they're just opening the door for me to be THAT GIRL for someone else... and the circle of life continues.