The Women I Wondered About

As I walk by the painting, I chuckle.


I’m filled with memories of the child I was skipping down the stairs and brushing past the artwork. I would marvel at the expanse of the painting, and I would feel as if I were walking into the artistry brought to life, sitting at the table with the vintage Chassidim immersed in Chassidic discussion.


How small I felt in their presence. Not because of their brilliance, rather simply because the painting felt larger-than-life in comparison to my petite build and naivete. Every time I think of the painting, I am overcome by a sense of being engulfed by something marvelous and large.


I was also awed by another larger-than-life existence I encountered—the Wonder Women I’d occasionally hear of or meet. They were huge. Not in size, like the painting. But the jack-of-all-trades kind of huge. Flawlessly tiptoeing a graceful dance—balancing being principal of a school, raising a family, and being a world-renowned speaker; unveiling an artistic talent; always sporting bright lipstick; managing a successful job and self-employed hobby; and having a following of friends and admirers clapping to their dance recital. I looked up to these women with the elaborate dance steps. I wanted to be as graceful and busy and sophisticated as them. Those women who have trotted the globe; the women whose talents fill the “all of the above” section. To me, they’ve made it.

The chuckle that creeps over me as I pass the painting also crosses my lips when I remember being completely starstruck and overwhelmed by these women, much less the possibility of becoming part of them. How young and naive I was.

No longer are the men in Chassidic garb calling out to me to join their discussion; no more is the art so enchantingly large. In fact, it is quite small. The enchanted feelings have hushed. The luster of the huge presences in my childish mind are now jaded.

These women are successful, but not to the exclusion of others. You can be a jack-of-all-trades, but sometimes it results in being a master of none. Some would rather not spread themselves across the globe of opportunity, but conquer their niche, and that’s okay! You don’t have to participate in every fair.

Don’t rob yourself of rejoicing in small steps of progress, because others are accomplishing much more. Why discredit your efforts because there is still an overwhelming amount that needs to get done? While there are those who seem to seamlessly juggle it all, that has nothing to do with me. Each day, as I grow into the person I’d like to become, I have big shoes to fill. I may not be actualizing my childhood aspirations, but I’m actualizing the real me.

And as I take my first step each morning, I pray that G-d accept my dance. It may not be elaborate nor sophisticated, but it's from my heart; each step thought-through, so I can give Him my soul. I may never be a jack-of-all-trades, but I strive to be a master of one.

Chaya Silver is passionate about continuously learning and finding meaning in the mundane.