Thinking on the value of being me brought to mind a figure from the pages of history.
On September 7th, 1533 a young woman was born into a family that would have privilege, status and she would marry well. She was a princess but declared illegitimate through political machinations, yet she would go on to claim the English throne at the young age of 25. She was taught four languages and could write in English, Latin and Italian. She is also believed to have spoken Welsh, Scottish, Cornish, and Irish.
She was an unusual girl even for her well to do upbringing.
She was quite clever, very charming, was an extraordinary dancer, and excellent musician. Her name of course at that time would not be important or even noticed, as she was a woman and women were not of high value at that time. Nonetheless, she was unusual and would go on to be a huge influence in her time. Her name, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, Princess, then Queen, then mother to a country. She would go on to negotiate her world with finesse, and rise to power ruling, arguably, the most powerful country of the time. She is commonly known as Queen Elizabeth the 1st.
There were several other siblings that she would have to survive and she did.
She reigned for 44 years, never took a husband, never had a child (we know of) and was never murdered in her bed. For Elizabeth it was never a matter of the heart, it was always a matter of service, staying alive, and staying ahead in the political game. She was determined not to let it go or slip through her hands. She’d seen too much from past family history to step into that snake pit.
One of Elizabeth’s mottos was “video et taceo” (“I see but say nothing”) which kept her in front of the game afoot.
Elizabeth was cautious in foreign affairs, maneuvering between the major powers of France and Spain. Playing both side and yet none. She kept the peace as best as she could as she strategically led suitors in the (false) hope of a possible marriage alliance.
So what intrigues me about the past and this woman?
You might say: “awwww, she had it good, who cares?” Yet, what appears to be privilege (and admittedly amazing) is not always that. Elizabeth skirted numerous situations that were very dangerous, survived, and then went on to thrive in the 16th Century. Now that is a feat! She could have been manipulated in many different ways by her council, but eloquently she maneuvered through them aggressively, usually with grace, all the while maintaining her own inner power. Even when the pressure was on to produce an heir and to find a man to help run her country, she was determined to do what she saw as best and it worked. She brought her country out of debt from her father’s reign, triumphed against powerful Spanish forces, won battles against the Church, and much more.
So, what does this show me, what does this tell me?
It tells me that no matter my station, gender, or belief in life, if I have a clear vision of what I want I can overcome any failings, misaligned belief systems, gender haters, and more, I will thrive!
If I am willing to believe in me and my ideals, to stand up for what I know to be true. Take that stand and courage to speak out and to work with others creating a common language and common ground, for all of us….