Today is a sad day for me, and for women everywhere I imagine. Oprah’s final show is airing, and so ends 25 years of heartfelt advice on ways to live your best life. Don’t get me wrong. I am fully aware that Oprah is a business, and much of what she did was in the interest of making money, but that doesn’t mean the lessons I learned while watching her show weren’t good ones. In honor of her final show, I’d like to share the episode that was my “ah-ha” moment.
In 2006, Oprah did an episode with Kristin Armstrong, who is Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife, called “The Truth about Marriage” At the time I was 25 years old and had been living in San Diego for 3+ years where I had moved on a whim with my best friend, Val. We moved to San Diego with nothing, and had struggled, and fought, and managed to build a pretty awesome life for ourselves. We were successful, independent women, and were darn proud of it.
When I saw Kristin Armstrong, a young, successful, and seemingly confident woman on this episode, it truly changed my life. She spoke about how after meeting, and falling in love with, Lance Armstrong, she unknowingly started to try to be what she thought a wife and mother should be. Lance never said to her, “You need to do this”, or “you need to be this way” she just felt like she was trying to emulate what society had deemed “the perfect wife”, in turn, she gave up all of her independence. In the end, it turned out that she became someone different than the woman that Lance had initially fell in love with. This is what really got to me.
I long suspected that this is what was happening in the increasing number of marriages that end in divorce. People get married too young, before they really know themselves, then try to become what they think a wife or mother should be. In the end, they realize this ideal doesn’t really exist, and by that point, they’ve forgotten who they were to begin with. What I got from this episode, and still think about to this day is; don’t look at other people and think “I want to be like them, what are they doing that I’m not doing?” Everyone has problems in their lives no matter how perfect their marriage or family seems to be. The only way to truly live to the fullest, is to be true to yourself, listen to your heart, and never lose confidence in the traits and beliefs that make up who you are, because those are the reasons the people in your life fell in love with you in the first place, and following your own instincts is the only way to get you where you need to be in life.
Val and I saved that episode on our DVR and watched it many times. It’s a lesson that I will never forget. The good news is that The Hubs and I have a wonderful marriage, full of mutual respect, and I’m still that confident woman I was back then, just a better version. Thank you Oprah!