I recently suffered a severe breakdown that sent me to the hospital. I worked myself to the point of burnout and ultimately needed to get help. When I returned home from the hospital, my fridge was stocked, my sheets were clean, and my bed was made better than I could have done it. I didn’t know it at the time, but after a few frantic texts, one of my besties drove four hours through the night to be there for me. And when I wasn’t allowed visitors, she went to my apartment. By the time I got there she had already gone. I only learned of her visit when I returned home to my favorite vegan mac and cheese in the fridge and a tidy apartment, which was a perfect contrast to the mess I had just lived through and exactly what I didn’t know I needed. I realized then that the best of friends support you in quiet, unsung ways that are entirely unique to you and your needs. They’re your rock at rock bottom.
The most successful Super Women not only have their own backs, they have a community of other Super Women behind them, too. Emotional Wellness takes a village. I want to share what I’ve learned while creating my village to help you establish who’s in yours.
In addition to those besties who will drop everything for you in a moment of crisis, we also surround ourselves with all kinds of experts. These are the people who, while you may not call them in said crisis, enable you to pursue your goals. That might mean your kids’ nanny, your assistant, or your handy neighbor who can fix anything. It’s your posse, so make it what you want, but here are a few examples of experts you might want to add:
This is someone you admire professionally and aspire to learn from. Ideally, they work in the same or a similar industry as you, but not at your actual company. They have your best interests in mind as a professional and a person, and you can rely on them for nonbiased feedback about your career choices and trajectory. The key here is that this is an actual relationship, which you take the time to grow and foster—without expecting anything concrete in return. (Advice and guidance when you need it? Yes. A big connection or actual job offer? No.) Also, get the idea out of your head that a mentor has to be older. I consider my friends Randi Zuckerberg and Daphne Oz to be my mentors, and they are basically my age. Randi does a lot of the same things I do, but in the technology space, and Daphne does a lot of what I do in the food space. While industry veterans can be helpful for giving you the general lay of the land, I’m also a big advocate of “peer mentors”—those who are more familiar with the type of work and contracts you might be getting now, in the present day, not just twenty years ago. Start your search for peer mentors on LinkedIn by seeing who you might already be connected to within your industry, and then reach out to see if they’d be open to meeting.
Going to a therapist is like going to a trainer for your brain. You definitely don’t need to have a diagnosed mental illness to go. In fact, everyone should go. (But if you do have something going on, it’s doubly important.)
My long-time psychiatrist is Lucy. I find this hilarious and fitting because I played the character “Lucy” in my grade school production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. My scene was the one where Lucy opens a neighborhood psychiatry booth—you know, the one where she puts up a little handwritten sign for whether the doctor is “in” or “out.” Having this real-life Lucy has literally saved my life. But while the Lucy in the play charged five cents for her services, mine charges five thousand times that. Seriously. I fully recognize that I am nothing but lucky to be able to afford my Lucy. But there are ways to find your Lucy without the sticker shock.
3. Life coach
If you have the cash to lock down a life coach, this can be a great person to include in your inner circle. If I asked an executive ten years ago who had had the greatest impact on her career, the typical answers were “my college professor” or “my first boss.” Now I hear “life coach” or even “spiritual advisor” way more often. A life coach might be someone you bring into your circle later in life, once you have the resources to spend on one; or you might also decide that, financial commitment or not, it’s just not for you. Either way, there are life coaches who specialize in everything from ADHD to career issues to creativity.
Talking about getting help from people outside of the usual support system has become more accepted and therefore more popular. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street to Washington, the stigma of talking about shrinks and spirituality has been replaced with story swapping and contact sharing.
The bottom line is, even if you don’t think you need anyone, to reach the heights we both know you’re capable of, you should want to build a strong network of other Super Women and Super Men with whom to enjoy the view.
Nicole Lapin is the New York Times Bestselling author of Rich Bitch and Boss Bitch. She is the host of the nationally syndicated business reality competition show, “Hatched.” She has been an anchor on CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg. Her latest book, Becoming Super Woman, is available now.