Recently I had the privilege of visiting the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I thought it would be fun, but I wasn’t expecting to be so viscerally moved by Lady Liberty. As I listened to the history behind her I realized that she has a lot to teach us about confidence, self-esteem, and possibility in the face of adversity. Much of her history really speaks to an unlikely combination of paradoxes and circumstances that don’t seem congruent with the times. Yet, all these years later she remains as a symbol not only of freedom, but also of perseverance and confidence in spite of whatever happens in the world around us. One only has to remember the images of her in the smoke clouds of September 11, 2001 to get a searing and moving image of just how symbolic and timeless she is.
Here’s a few facts that, while not a news flash by any account, really made an impression on me. Perhaps it was my total resistance to learning history while in school, but I have to say some of the history behind the places I visit really finally allows things to make sense.
The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.
Let’s think about 1886. In the United States, the Women’s Suffrage movement was just underway. Women did not even have the right to vote yet. That came in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Yet, here the idea for the statue was first brought forth in 1865. Even after listening to the full audio tour while visiting Liberty Island, I have yet to really figure out how they chose a woman as their symbol. Personally I’d like to think they were ahead of their time! While in daily life, women were relegated as second class citizens without any real power outside the home, here was this massive statue being built. Let me tell you that while the statue looks strong in photos, in person I can tell you that she is so much more. It is totally humbling. She is certainly not the image of some second class citizen. Her features are strong, powerful, and confident. Her dimensions are huge, but what amazed me was the strength and muscular build of this woman. She epitomizes strength, self-assurance, and confidence.
So here are a few tidbits that I took away from being in her presence that I think are relevant to all women today:
- Confidence comes from within – regardless of the decorum of the times, she transcends it and while she isn’t a “real person”, what you can learn from her is that you can be confident too regardless of what others around you have to say about it.
- Ignore those who say it isn’t possible – do you really think someone would think it possible that a woman would become this enduring symbol on a global scale at a time when women had little rights? Tune out the naysayers. People will think you’re nuts until you accomplish the seemingly impossible, then you suddenly become a genius.
- Stand tall and proud – regardless of what happens around you, stand tall and proud in who you are right now. That is the most attractive and inspiring thing you could possibly do.
If you ever get the chance, take the opportunity to visit this amazing structure. The perspective it gives you is worth it. Even if you can’t get there in person anytime soon, just take a few moments, gaze into this photo of her, look her in the eyes, and ask – What do I need more or less of so I can tap into more of the essence of who I really am? Then listen deeply…