November 14, 2011

All About You

In 2003 I was a successful career woman with a great job, a great house, fun friends, and big plans for being a working mom. Then that week came when we were supposed to take our little one to day care. My husband and I simply couldn’t do it, and so began my journey to maintain a sense of myself.

What is self? I suppose it’s the place where you’re comfortable with what you know, how you apply it, and what is going on in your world. If what you know shifts, how do you remain grounded? That’s been a question I ask myself almost daily.

For me, that’s where Alpha Phi has become truly valuable. College was a tremendous experience for me, full of all the superlatives you can throw at a time in your life with relatively low responsibility and high ability to do as you please. I joined as a junior and did not choose a leadership path because I knew my tenure was short. In that that time, I learned many valuable lessons on relationships and meeting expectations.

So many women I know struggle with where they fit in the world. Whether they’re in the workforce or at home for their tasks, I find many of my friends are simply drained from all they do. Stress, boredom, repetition, and lack of recognition take their toll on everyone, but especially women who want to have it all.

I’m not immune to feeling drained. Over the past eight years of my sabbatical from “a real career,” I’ve worked to build some defenses over feeling downtrodden. One method is not foolproof, but it’s so effective that it makes me sad others don’t use it.

You guessed it—I stay in touch with Alpha Phi. I take it a step beyond just the “I sent in my lifetime dues” category, although that is important and might be just what other need. I have found that I need to maintain a relationship with my alumnae chapter.

I can hear the explanations now. I’m too busy. Work wears me out. The kids have baseball, ballet, basket weaving practice. We’re all on the life path, friends, with the same amount of time in our day. And here’s what I learned, not from my Alpha Phi life, but some other key friends: if you don’t take care of you, there’s nothing left to give those you love.

What do I get from my involvement? Much like exercise gurus will encourage you to put your workout on your calendar, when I book an Alpha Phi meeting, I create a mini-goal. Get to that meeting and you’ll feel better. It works. There’ve been times I thought I should skip, but I think of the encouragement I’ll receive and realize I’m trying to excuse myself from one of the key things in my life that enables me to simply be Melinda.

Okay, so I get a night out with friends. What else, you ask? In our alumnae chapter, I’ve met people at different stages of life. New grads. New moms. New retirees. Each woman is unique, coming from a very different place than me. Sharing their experiences helps me understand my own. Learning from them helps me go back to my corner of the world refreshed, renewed, and ready to be the best I can be.

I encourage you to make that appointment for yourself. I think you’ll be surprised at how Alpha Phi can help you right now.

Melinda Wedding (Gamma Iota-Texas Tech) currently resides in McKinney, TX.

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