Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

The Silent Support Behind “Great” Men

I recently watched a movie about a fashion designer who oversaw a Couture House of Design. He was regarded as a genius and the people around him admired his prolific creations.


He lived with his sister, who managed the mansion they live in. She ensured he was greeted with breakfast every morning and that all of his life needs were met, such as clothes washed and ready, transportation arranged, all meals prepared, etc.


If everyone had that kind of care and support, I think we would have far more “geniuses” and prolific individuals.


Of course that designer can be prolific in his design work when it is the only thing he is responsible for. When all he has to do is have an idea and a team of seamstresses put it together and rework it anytime he wants.


It makes me think about the inventors, political leaders, entrepreneurs, and other individuals we laude and uplift in our history.


A proud man is standing while a woman is holding books behind him.
"Silent Support" Watercolor and Pen illustration by Jackie Schuld

Most of them have been men due to the structure of our society. They were the ones allowed to have the “prolific” roles while women filled in as support.


It makes me wonder who was the silent support behind the people we consider “great”?


Who catered to Benjamin Franklin’s daily living needs as he tried 1000 light bulb designs?


Our gendered society has historically relegated women to the roles of caretaker, mother, household overseer, or stopgap (making money so the family can survive).


If women had the support that “great’ men had, there’d be far more women creators, inventors, and geniuses in our timelines.


I think this understanding can also provide us with more self-compassion and understanding for our own lives.


It can be easy to look up to someone and compare ourselves. To find ourselves feeling “less than” because we are not doing the great things that someone else is doing.


Maybe we can be gentler on ourselves when we realize our role models had a silent support system that none of us are aware of.


Yes, we may all wish to do magnificent and prolific things with our lives, but we may not have the silent support team or the privileges of wealth.


We may have to sacrifice and work and stretch in ways that they did not.


We may have to fulfill other responsibilities and simply ensure we can pay our bills.


If I had no financial pressure to make an income and someone took care of my daily needs, I could get so much more done. And so could the majority of most people.


I used to feel I failed in comparison to the people I esteemed.


When we stop to examine the unique demands of our lives and the amount of support we have, we may be able to see we’re doing pretty well.


We may never be as “prolific” as 1000 light bulb tries and multiple inventions, but we may also see and experience the world in a way that someone with that much power and privilege never could. We may develop compassion, empathy, ideas, and opinions that can improve the quality of life for multiple people directly around us.


And when we do succeed, we will bring others up with us. We will acknowledge the support and humans who got us there.

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