Amelia Earhart wanted to be a great aviator. But it was the 1920s, and people still thought that women were frail and weak and didn’t have the stuff. Woman suffrage was not even a decade old.
She couldn’t make her living as a pilot, so she took a job as a social worker. Then one day the phone rang. The man on the line had a pretty offensive proposition, along the lines of: We have someone willing to fund the first female transatlantic flight. Our first choice has already backed out. You won’t get to actually fly the plane, and we’re going to send two men along as chaperones and guess what, we’ll pay them a lot of money and you won’t get anything. Oh, and you very well might die while doing it.
You know what she said to that offer? She said yes.
Because that’s what people who defy the odds do. That’s how people who become great at things—whether it’s flying or blowing through gender stereotypes—do. They start.“The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and reflecting on that I recalled this story about Amelia Earhart.
I take many lessons from this story.
The idea of making the best play with the hand you’re dealt is something I often struggle with. I often find myself stuck on things that I consider to be unfair, or I can’t do things now because I’m not prepared, or I won’t do things because it’s a matter of principle.
But this is all just my entitlement and my need for control.
Amelia Earhart had a play with a much bigger cost than fairness, feeling prepared, or giving up stubbornness and yet she chose that play because it moved her forward. This is definitely an area I need to practice.
I also found it interesting how the first time I heard this story, I assumed that she was calm when she accepted this offer.
Reflecting on it now, I have no clue how she was feeling. Perhaps she was calm. Perhaps she was pissed that this was the proposition she had to take to move forward. Perhaps she was excited because she finally found an opportunity to move forward.
In any case, I think too often I assume that I need to feel a certain way to act a certain way. I think too often I assume that there is a right way to feel when facing adversity.
Actually, this reminds me a bit about a thought I was recently reminded of in the book I’m currently reading (Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk To Someone).
Feelings don’t dictate your behaviour. They shouldn’t be ignored or discounted. They should guide your curiosity so that they can help to bridge your conscious with your subconscious.
And now I’m wondering whether I often struggle so much in this area because I the way I act despite feelings is by ignoring them. Perhaps this is something I should bring up with my therapist.