Building Your Support System Means Showing Up for Yourself First

When sh*t hits the fan in your life–whether you brought it on yourself or not–do you look at that setback and start doubting yourself?

Who hasn’t doubted themselves after a setback? Who hasn’t contemplated giving up when sh*t hits the fan? If you’re human–and particularly if you’re a woman–odds are that trials, tribulations, and tragedy have occasionally taken the wind out of your sails, leaving you feeling directionless or hopeless.

So if setbacks are indeed par for the course, then hello, shouldn’t we be looking to each other when we need a boost?

Our Mind of a Mentor series showcases women who have experienced significant challenges in their lives and how exactly they overcame (or continue to overcome) those setbacks to achieve their version of success.

Imagine this: you’ve just landed an amazing job, and you are overly excited. So excited that you may or may not have screamed a few obscenities to express your excitement (no judgment here).

Now imagine that your majorly amazing job requires you to move to an entirely new city and start completely over. Do you do it?

It’s probably safe to say that your hesitancy comes from moving from a secure and comfortable place, both physically or emotionally. And that’s completely valid.

We are creatures of habit, and by nature, we form groups and stick together. Having people around you that love and support you is invaluable. And sometimes, life throws you curve balls that you won’t anticipate or understand. We’re not meant to understand everything.

But sometimes, these curve balls aren’t happening TO us, but rather, FOR us. They are calling us to take a risk and step out of our comfort zones.

We have to know that what we are doing is right for us and no one else. But it does help to have a strong support system. A.K.A. a network of people and tools to build you up and keep you on the right track when roadblocks appear.

Hope Alcocer opened up to us about her experience overcoming hardship to get to where she is today: a budding author, entrepreneur, and empowered woman.

Born and raised in Chicago Hope was surrounded by a wonderfully large Armenian family that vowed to stick together through thick and thin. At the tender age of 6-weeks-old, Hope’s father passed away, leaving her mother a single mom with two small children.

Hope remembers being taught that everyone should stand on their own two feet and follow your own intuition. Losing a significant other is hard enough as it is, but knowing that your entire life was built around that person makes moving on after a loss (whether they leave on their own or are tragically taken too soon) incredibly difficult.

Hope’s mom instilled in her the value of loving and trusting yourself and forming a strong world around you in case something were to happen to that special someone.

A lesson that stuck with Hope (and should stick with all of us, honestly).

For Hope, knowing who you are first is the most important thing you can do as a woman. Depending on others for your own happiness, value, or stability leaves us disappointed and unfulfilled.

It wasn’t that her mom wanted her babies to not trust others – she simply wanted them to be able to handle themselves anytime.

Such a huge message for young kids (and us big kids too!).

Later in life, Hope and her family found themselves surrounded by yet another tragedy.

This time it was her younger brother who suffered.

When her brother, Luke, was just 19-years-old, he was involved in a motorcycle accident that crushed his spine, leaving him instantly paralyzed.

Hope credits her strength and perseverance through the tragedy to her family and faith. Through this foundation, the family came through on the other side with hope and appreciation for one another.

When families have put in the work for those loving bonds with each other, Hope says that dealing with hard times becomes a little less painful.

Her favorite encouragement from her family when they show up while she’s facing a hard time (like her brother’s accident or her cancelled engagement), is, “It’s what we do.”

Because that’s what families (blood or not) do for each other. That’s what a strong support system can do for you – provide you with  love and guidance and presence during the most difficult times.

Life might really suck, and you might feel like you’re getting every lemon in the basket. But, when family and friends show up to support you in any circumstance, you’re bound to see that “It’s what we do,” is powerfully packed with meaning.

You cannot do this life alone, so as you nurture that confidence in yourself, also build those bonds and support systems that will keep you going when times get tough.

Through Hope’s journey to find healing in both her physical and emotional health, she has realized that without her deep Armenian family roots and strong faith, she would not be where she is today: a successful business woman owning her life and empowering other women to do the same.

Her story has touched thousands of women through her book, Where Hope Lies, since its release just a few short months ago (purposefully launched on International Women’s Day). Women continually reach out to Hope to let her know just how powerful her words have been in empowering their own lives, getting the courage to do what’s best for them, and owning that confidence wholeheartedly.

So if you’re out there trying to do life completely alone or find yourself leaning too heavily on one person without leaning on yourself first, it’s time to stop, honor your intuition, gather your tribe together and start building that foundation.

Some of you might think that it’s impossible for you to build a strong support system around you right now. You might have just moved to a new city, or are still reeling from a breakup that leaves you heartsick

Hope’s been there, too.

A little over a year ago, Hope moved to New York City for an incredible job opportunity. After listening to the wisdom from her brother about life being too short not to follow her dreams, Hope picked up her life in Michigan and moved to New York City by herself.

Completely alone.

Not one connection there.

Scary? Absolutely.

Worth it? Hell yeah.

Hope expressed the belief that you get back what you put out to the world.

If you put out warmth and love to the people around you, that is what you will get back in return. But if you let fear and negativity drive your life every single day, you will get back fear and negativity.

After moving to New York City, Hope knew that without a strong support system around her to help her navigate, she would not be living a successful, empowered life.

So how’d she fix that?

Coffee shops. Church. Networking groups.

You name it, she did it. She tests out the dating scene here and there…

Because networking (for business or pleasure), relationship building, and authentically showing up on a daily basis is how you will build that tribe for yourself.

So the next time your family or really close group of friends says, “Oh you don’t have to do that.” You simply smile and say, “It’s what we do.”

That’s all you’ll need to say. Four little words but such a huge impact.

Listen to Hope’s podcast episode on Mind of a Mentor ↓ ↓ ↓

Marla Isackson

Marla Isackson is a seasoned marketing executive with over 25 years’ experience creating innovative marketing campaigns for world-famous brands including Citibank, American Express, Barnes & Noble, and WebMD. A longtime passionate supporter of womens’ initiatives, Marla is the founder of Like a Boss Girls (likeabossgirls.com), a website providing young women the tools, information and inspiration they need to define, explore and connect with their goals — including finding (or creating) their dream job, becoming entrepreneurs, social activists, leaders, basically pursuing success however they may define it.

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