When Hillary Clinton was hospitalized for a blood clot inside her head caused by a fall, news media across the world covered the story around the clock. Many women stopped whatever they were doing and paused in disbelief. She had just recently made the news for being chosen as the most admired woman in the world for the 17th time surpassing other formidable women like Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Thatcher to name a few. Many of us have come to believe that Hillary would always be here and there working endlessly to protect democracy across the planet. We take for granted that her voice will continue to be heard in the darker parts of the earth that still exploit and brutalize girls and women. We continue to expect that she will advocate for basic human rights for girls and women and especially the right to education no matter which continent they happen to live upon. She seemed unstoppable.
As I followed the updates on Clinton with marked concern that she would be able to recover fully, I could not help but wonder what the nature of the deep connection to her was that so many of us experience. I have never met Mrs. Clinton and I don’t travel in the elite circle that has been her domain for decades.
I think what connects us to Hillary Clinton is that she has been a model on how to live a female life no matter how gifted, how challenged or ordinary that life can be at times. We have watched her handle gut wrenching personal crisis played out on an international stage. While many men and women criticized Hillary for not divorcing her husband during his most public infidelity, Hillary conducted her personal business privately. She taught us that the first step in a personal crisis of any kind is to focus inward and build your own strength. Rather than playing on an international divorce stage, Mrs. Clinton ran for the senate and won.
We have also learned from Hillary Clinton to reject perfection as a standard applied to women those in and out of the spotlight. While Hillary Clinton‘s job performance approval rating is still at an all-time high, higher than any man in national politics, what pundits want to talk about is how bad her hair looks or how tired she appears. What is notable is the response from Mrs. Clinton on those unflattering remarks: silence.
Perhaps the most important lesson Mrs. Clinton has taught us is the wisdom of investing in one’s own human capital and dignity and the strength of character to make one’s own choices. This is not to be confused with going it alone for anyone who has watched Hillary Clinton has learned that at the end of the day, the most important choice is to support and stand by other women both in their aspirations and in their major life challenges. We do need to continually build and rebuild a strong physical and emotional well being as we traverse the decades of our lives. The reality is that most women will live the last of their years on earth on their own.
The pulse of Hillary Clinton that resonates within me and within many women is to continue to learn from her as she navigates the rest of her stunningly accomplished life.