Detail image of Tawana for the December 2022 Publisher's Blog.

Hold Space for Her

Written by Tawana Bain | Photo by Tawana Bain

Recently I was presented with the opportunity to support a dear friend who was being recognized for her outstanding leadership and noteworthy accomplishments. As I looked around the stunning event space and at all the beautiful people in attendance, the highlight for me was her, and the overwhelming joy it gave me to see her celebrated and honored for the amazing woman she is.   

While only a select few were invited, I was caught off guard by some dismissive energy. Some in attendance questioned why she was receiving these honors. I thought to myself, “how could these women miss the moment and the opportunity to embrace the highlight of our sister?” To my dismay, some went so far to remind me that I was equally deserving.   

Their compliments weren’t my concern. It was their oblivion that I questioned because their praise took away from the reason we were all there in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, everyone deserves a strong, supportive tribe that celebrates you and your accomplishments. But I couldn’t quite grasp how they were missing the opportunity to appreciate and embrace my friend’s moment.

I questioned how was it that I could be over-the-moon at her success and honored by the gesture of appreciation presented to her, yet others seemed completely unimpressed? I wondered had I embraced the flattery directed at me, would that have shifted my ability to be happy for my friend? Might it have created a sense of competition? I’ve certainly observed that happen to others.  

But what was the root of their rationale? Was their disregard of her honors their way of asking me not to place her on a pedestal? If so, why? Or, did they want to make me feel just as important? I wasn’t quite sure. What I was certain of was that their eagerness to ensure she did not reach the pedestal and remind me why I easily could have been placed there instead, was causing them to miss the beautiful song that was playing at that moment.

“…if you take a moment to sit in the moment and truly experience it, you are likely to find the beauty in the experience, which often culminates in a sense of gratitude.”

Here is what I determined: Ultimately, it was up to me to recognize their short-sightedness and prevent it from residing in my thoughts. After all, the moment had nothing to do with me. It was not I who was receiving the recognition. She was. I pointed this out by asking, “Did you hear what was shared about this woman’s achievements and accomplishments? Perhaps someday, I may receive the same honor, but at this time, I have not. Acknowledging her gains in no way diminishes my own.”  

I firmly believe this kind of conduct is a silent disease that robs others of their blessings. Recognizing it is imperative. If you are the perpetrator or someone who allows it to run its course in your life, it’s poisonous and can creep in anywhere. Whether it’s a job, community project, invitation to an event, or acceptance into a new friendship circle; those on the outside looking in may for no reason at all sow discord. 

I shared this experience with another colleague and found her analogy worth sharing with our readers. Seldom do we take the time to “hold space.” Let’s think about that. What exactly does that mean? Too often, you are either immediately celebrating or immediately diminishing, but if you take a moment to sit in the moment and truly experience it, you are likely to find the beauty in the experience, which often culminates in a sense of gratitude. A natural high I welcome any day.  

I hate to say this, but there are some people who are so put off by the rhetorical “her” before even knowing the actual woman. They are already looking for the slightest reason not to like her. It feels like a bit of a phenomenon when you watch it all unfold. However, the implications of those assumptions could be turning down the job that may have changed your life for the better, getting to know a woman who becomes a lifelong friend, passing up on an opportunity to mentor someone who just might actually change your life and so much more.  

Do you struggle to hold space? If so, ask yourself what are you feeling, and why are you feeling it? Shift your focus to observing the person who is thriving or receiving positive attention. Don’t take away from their moments. Instead, embrace them. Don’t be the one who sows discord. They won’t forget how you acted in that time that was so important to them. Instead, strive to embrace gratitude in that space and moment, a rewarding sense of appreciation will surface. And it will be beautiful. Remember her successes and accolades should neither be a measure of how far you’ve come nor how amazing you are or are not. It’s not always about you. Take the moment to nod her way and hold space for her. Let her know #WeSeeYouSis


Read the November 2022 Publisher’s Blog.