I heard a little girl speaking to her mother on the elevator asking why she had to go to her classmate’s birthday party even though it wasn’t her friend. Her mother said, “We need to be kind to everyone in our class not just our friends. We need to think about how we want friends at our birthday party so we do the same for others. We need to be…” DING. The elevator door opened to their floor and I didn’t catch the end of her statement. I wanted to chase after the woman and squeeze her frail and tired body. I started creating a whole list of things in my head that “We need to be” particularly as women. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 6 years around groups of women. I was in a sorority in college and my coaching team is predominantly female. I’ve met and befriended women from all over the world and I have grown such a deep respect and admiration for women who are fighting the good fight. I am in several online communities in the digital world that promote women traveling, exercising, writing, and pretty much owning their personal passions. I love women who are standing up for what they believe in, especially when it isn’t something that everyone believes in. We need more women like that.
I am fascinated by the fact that feminism seems to be such a dirty word reserved for granola, crunchy hippies who hate men and live with 10 cats. Alright, that is a harsh generalization but I think you know what I mean by a “dirty word.” It has a lot of stigma attached to it, such as words like racism, mental health, suicide, rich, money, conservative, business, abortion, Muslim, gay etc. All words with a stigma attached to them are topics that are highly misunderstood, quite taboo to talk about, and generally the people who do talk about them are people who don’t represent them in the first place. I believe in strong women, feminism and women having a voice. So, here it is. I don’t hate men. I love men. I was raised by an incredible man, grew up with two wonderful guys as my older brothers and I am currently in love with one of the good ones. But, I, in fact am a woman. And I have a voice. A voice I can proudly articulate. Today is World Gratitude Day and I am beyond grateful that I have a voice. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth GIlbert seems to be a weekly reference point lately, but I truly feel so connected to her message, her guests and somehow my life seems to coincide perfectly. Gilbert said on this week’s episode, “To be criticized is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. To be rejected is the tax that you pay for having a public voice. There is a very simple way to make sure that you are never criticized and never rejected and that is to never have a public voice.”
On her podcast Gilbert helps creatives find their voice, start the project of their dreams and stop letting fear stand in the way of their destiny. She gives the guests assignments, gets advice from an expert in their field and checks back in with them to see if they have started on their creative venture. The most inspiring part of it all is usually she is simply validating that they have the right to be creative, that they have the ability to create and whatever they decide to make…matters. Everytime I sit down to write a blog post, I reflect on my week, my thoughts, my feelings and try to solidify one over arching “message” or lesson I gained from my experiences that week. This week, I feel as if I have taken the lens of my brain’s camera and zoomed out. I have been contemplating what type of person and what type of woman I want to be. What type of women do I need to be? I have been reflecting on what kind of message and legacy I want to leave behind. What do you need to be before you can’t be anymore? What do you have to create before your time here on earth is done?
For me, it is without a doubt-words. Books, blogs, short stories, essays, memoirs. I need to write. I need to write not just because I have a lot of stories to tell, adventures to share, and messages of hope to spread but I need to write to exist. To be. If you don’t enjoy writing, I’m not sure that you can understand this feeling. But it is palpable for me. So, today, I want to write a message of hope, a bit of a mini-manifesto; for young women, old women, working women, children, students, prostitutes, artists, or anyone who identifies as female. Individually, it is hard to be everything we want to be but together we can be. Together we are what we need.
We need to be women who speak up. We need to be women who champion for others, not just other women, but anyone who is an underdog that will not champion for themselves. We need to be strong and fierce. We need to be vulnerable. We need to teach little girls that it’s not about who has the most Barbie dolls or the prettiest dresses but who shows kindness and compassion to others. We need to stop telling little girls how pretty they are and start asking them what books they are reading. We need to make our daughter go to everyone’s birthday party. We need to be tender hearted and supportive. We need to be intelligent, quirky and free. We need to drink beer when we want to and wine when we need to. We need to make other women feel powerful, beautiful and sexy no matter what they wear, what their body looks like or what happened in their past. We need to gain respect by simply living in a manner that demands respect. We need to stop comparing our lives to celebrities or our sorority sister’s instagram account. Her instagram account is not her life, it’s a projection of what she wants you to see of her life.
We need to realize that everyone struggles, cries, eats a whole tub of ice cream for dinner(that can’t just be me) but we also need to recognize that we live in a world where so many women are still voiceless. We need to be the voice of reason, respect, and dignity for those women who live in places where they don’t receive any of that. We need to be women who our husbands are proud to call theirs, and our children and grandchildren will be proud of our legacy long after we are gone. We need to think about what we send out into the universe, what we represent and how we make others feel. We need to realize that being all of these things, does not mean we need to hide our flaws, shortcomings and imperfections. We need flaws to be. We need to constantly question who we are, where we are going, and what impact we want to leave on the world.
We need to remember that despite any woman’s’ outward appearance- there is a soul inside of there trying to get out. We need to remember that we all have a lion inside of us. We need to be fierce and determined but gentle and nurturing. We need to be whatever the hell we want to be.
We need to be women who leave a legacy for generations to come. We need to use the incredible gifts we are given instead of wasting time wishing we had someone else’s gifts, someone else’s body or someone else’s life. We need to be warriors, travelers, creators, teachers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, scientists, artists, CEOs, and businesswomen. We need to be women who cheer on our friends, cousins, sisters, neighbors and co-workers. We need to be women who instead of getting jealous of another person’s success acknowledge their hard work and diligence and apply it our own lives. We need to be women who laugh too loudly, speak what is on our mind, and start families when we want to not when we think we have to.
We need to be women who use our voices on good days and on bad days to show the world that the flaws make us human, not weak. Every week the internet is full of lackluster Women Crush Wednesdays so this week I am joining in on the trend but hopefully with a bit more meaning. My Women Crush Wednesday is for all of the women who represent what we need to be. All of the women who use their brain, their intelligence and their beauty because yes, you really can have it all. All of the women in my life both near and far who represent what we need to be and so much more. And this post especially goes out to that mother in the elevator- keep telling your doe eyed daughter what we need to be. Most importantly, we need to work together and use our voices because we are exactly what we need to be.