"We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back." - Malala Yousafzai
Spirals and loops, knots, and dead ends. As women, we find ourselves lacking short cuts and "cheat codes" in life. We have to speak louder and firmer during meetings to be heard. We have to work harder for that promotion. When we speak our minds, misogyny hits us in the face.
"You're a bitch."
We look tired when we're not smiling or wearing enough makeup. We're invisible when our shells aren't "perfect." Though our biggest enemies are often ourselves, society does a heck of a job setting multiple hardships and challenges in our paths: glass ceilings, double standards, violence and harassment, societal pressures, and objectification of our bodies. When we've reached a certain age, we MUST get married. When we're married, we MUST have children. When we have a child, we MUST have another one, because it's selfish to have only one child. (Really now?) Strangers, our friends, and even our loved ones may mean well, but they really should not opine about how we should treat our bodies, or decide for us what we should do with our bodies or when to have birth, or whether or not we should have abortions.
I have a simple message on International Women's Day, and that message has taken me over three decades to finally realize. That message is to Be You. Be kind. Be bold. Be outspoken! Be brave! Be proud of yourselves and your accomplishments.
Shut out the negativity you hear and see, take a deep breath, and realize how far we've come along, and how much success you already have in life.
Dream, dream big, dream huge, but don't just dream. Do it. Don't say that you'd like to be a writer, or that you'd like to start a blog. Write that book. If you're having trouble finding an agent or a publisher, self publish that book! I've always wanted to blog, so I went ahead and launched this blog in two days back at the end of 2014. At first, this blog attracted maybe a few readers every week. Now we attract more than 7000 readers every month!
Be brave. Don't linger and wonder and worry. Just go ahead and do it. (Don't sue me, Nike...)
Admire that beautiful stranger or friend of yours, but don't envy her. You're amazing. You go at your own pace. You're the heroine of your own story. Those who don't appreciate you, or realize how amazing you are, well, it's their lost. Comparisons get us nowhere, only to the deep, resentful places of our minds and hearts.
Finally, Be Free. We've earned that right. Happy International Women's Day, 2017, women of the world!