What’s more, it didn’t feel true to my goals for myself. The words I choose each year are intended to make me a better person—not, well, a shinier one. The idea of spending the year focused on shining felt too selfish, too small.
In retrospect, it’s no mystery why that word kept coming back to me though. At the time, I was preparing for my book The Moment of Lift to be released. After so many months of quietly writing and editing, I was about to shift gears entirely and begin a book tour that would take me all over the country (and a few places outside of it).
Even though I was excited for the chance to have so many conversations about gender equality with so many different people, I was also a little nervous about being at the center of all that attention. As always, I wondered whether I was up to the task. I even asked myself: why am I doing this?
That got me thinking about the reason I wrote this book in the first place.
When Bill and I started our foundation twenty years ago, I planned to let him be the public face of it and limit my own role to being behind the scenes. I cared a lot about the work we were doing, but I didn’t think I wanted or needed to be a spokesperson for it.
Then I started traveling to the world’s poorest places and spending time with the women who live there. That changed everything for me.
The women I met told me what it’s like to see the potential of everyone you know crushed under the burdens of poverty and disease. They told me about watching their children die preventable deaths and knowing that even their families’ basic needs were more than they could ever possibly provide. They told me about repressive laws and customs that keep their daughters from being seen as equal to their sons. But they also told me about the transformation that happens in their communities when women are empowered to thrive.