“One of the most powerfully symbolic gemstones comes from the byproduct of an irritated oyster. The pearl takes irritation and turns it into a magnificent symbol of purity and peace. Its lesson for the world is to turn sadness into joy and darkness into light. It takes time, but when complete, brings peace to the oyster and to the planet.”
~ Pamela Barclay, owner of Wonders of the World and an expert in gemstone symbolism
I love this description of a pearl. That beautiful, shiny gemstone that appears so perfect and smooth… But when you dig into her back story you realize that sucker was pissed off and annoyed for quite some time before reaching her current level of ‘smoothness.’ I can relate (only not to the smoothness part… yet!).
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like an irritated oyster? Pretty sure I’m not alone! On a daily basis, we as women are afforded a multitude of opportunities and experiences that men typically don’t get to have (<-like how I tried to positively phrase that?). Concerns about walking to our car alone at night, having a girlfriend monitor our drink as we run to the bathroom, the tone of our voice in a tense business meeting, the length of our skirt (or do we wear pants?) for a job interview, the subtle eye-roll as we take a break to pump breast milk, having to call-in because our kid is sick, giving birth, you get the point. Lots of opportunities!
And believe me, as a white woman in this society, I know I am afforded many privileges and experiences that many are not. Most of these privileges are invisible to me and I take them for granted, yet when I am conscious of it, I feel irritated. Irritated at the implicit and explicit bias that exists based solely on how a person looks, their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and I want to do something. Anything! Argh! I’m also acutely aware of subtle and not-so-subtle sexism that plays out daily in seemingly innocent ways. Men in powerful positions promoting other men to powerful positions, while equally qualified women and people of color remain in low-power places. The women who should be at the front of the room leading discussions and presenting on their areas of expertise, but who are instead passed over for a more outspoken colleague. The lack of representation can be glaring, and, quite frankly, painful.
But wait, I’m about to get all sorts of positive and hopeful up in here!
Getting back to that irritated oyster. I’ve decided to join forces with her and hope you will join me. Like the oyster, let’s take our collective irritation and turn it into a magnificent symbol of purity and peace for ourselves and everyone around us. We do this every time we lift another woman up, encourage her to be heard, take a risk, share a piece of our heart, share our struggle. We do this every time we affirm to ourselves that we ARE worthy of love, happiness, self-care and that we have a voice and a message that the world needs to hear! We do this in the subtlest of ways with our children, nieces/nephews, grandkids, stepkids; teaching them to love and respect human difference and our individual uniqueness through words and action. We do this when we see all situations and experiences through the eyes of opportunity, and instead of asking, “why is this happening to me?” we ask, “why is this happening for me?” and then we straight up listen for the answers and proceed accordingly.
I’m not quite there yet, but given time and our collective effort, this irritation will produce pearls of joy, light and opportunities for all of us. It already has, and I’m feeling super smoooooooth and shiny already!
Remember: No grit, no pearl!