In honor of International Women’s Day I wanted to write my hope for women and girls today and in the future. I’ve learned so many lessons over the years that have made a really big difference for me; and I really just want to share what I believe based on my own experiences, take it or leave it.
My biggest wish is simply for girls to grow up strong, and confident, and know they are capable of anything they set their minds to, and can follow whichever path sets their soul on fire AND have equal opportunity in the world throughout that journey! I hope that they will understand you don’t have to get married, you don’t have to have kids, there are alternative and just as satisfying life paths out there. It does not make you less of a woman or human to not want these things, or to choose something else besides marriage and kids. It also does not make you less strong or intelligent or driven if you do decide to get married and have kids, or get married and not have kids, or have kids and not get married. Just make sure YOU define your life.
If I could offer one piece of advice to young women growing up now it would be to start building a platform that will enable you to CREATE YOUR OWN INDEPENDENCE. You can do this by studying hard in school, keeping it a main focus in your life. Study instead of socialize, become obsessed with politics, and economics, and math and forget about boys or girls (for now). Work hard to keep your grades up for the best opportunity to get into a good college which would typically be the next step towards independence. Don’t forget to apply for every scholarship out there first though, and thoroughly weigh the benefit versus the risk before accepting financial aid, there are always other options.
Get into sports, it teaches you how to fight, fight for your team, for victory, for yourself. You learn how to overcome tough situations and develop perseverance, physical and mental strength in the process. Follow your passions, no matter how weird, the weirder they are the more unique you become and the more unique the skills you possess the more valuable you can be to the world. Start a business, start a club, organize a rally, run for school president, yeah it’s scary, but it’ll also be invaluable experience and exhilarating.
Through pursuing these things you may encounter setbacks, but these challenges will only give you the invaluable opportunity to practice another skill I highly recommend for girls to master- positive self talk and reframing. If you get a poor grade on a test or play sub-par in a match, you may want to beat yourself up, which is a good sign, it means you have high standards for yourself. However, if you can recognize the ways in which your self talk is having a negative affect and work to change your phrasing, using verbiage that inspires hope and belief that you can and will improve and it’s all just a part of the process, and do that over and over and over again, it will pay huge dividends, I promise.
Reframing is a skill I learned in high school that has been absolutely crucial to my career and life in general; it is so ingrained in my thinking at this point that I don’t even have to try. Reframing, in short, is the art of taking a situation that could easily be viewed as negative and changing your perspective so that you can see the positive in it. Maybe you didn’t make the varsity team when you had your heart SET on it. You can either be bitter and grumpy and act like you’re too good to be on JV, OR you can take the opportunity to be a leader, to take on the pressure of carrying your team sometimes and lifting the level of your teammates. You can be a positive force on JV and be determined to have the most successful season possible, which will probably get you the attention of the varsity coach and provide valuable opportunities in the future. OR you could mope around all season and count on making the varsity next season, which if that’s your attitude, who knows if it will even happen then?
How you view situations, the “frame” in which you see things, can completely transform what you thought was negative into truly positive experiences. And always remember lots of blessings are sent in disguise!!
The more you encounter challenges and setbacks and refuse to give in, by reframing and talking yourself through it, by building yourself up, the more you will see how strong you are, how capable you are of anything. You will see how valuable you are to the endeavors to which you commit yourself, you won’t need anyone else to make you feel valuable, you will KNOW. That will in turn create confidence, the most blissful of all feelings- authentic confidence, when you become “unfuckwithable” (my favorite word). The key is to never give up on your dreams or yourself! Work, work, work, and feel the hurt when it doesn’t work out, then get up and go after it again, you will learn and grow and improve and one day you WILL accomplish your dreams.
If you practice these things and stay focused on the areas that matter most, you will instill a deep sense of love for and security in yourself. My hope in creating this is that girls will not want to look for validation of self worth in relationships or from coaches or teachers or even parents, that they will be self-motivated and feel empowered to pursue their careers, if that is what they truly want, and not feel pressured by society to follow a more traditional or “acceptable” path. The world needs more unapologetically driven and high powered women, we need more voices campaigning on our behalf at the highest boardroom tables and in the highest levels of government, not just here in the U.S., but around the world.
Yes there are many women who have broken those glass ceilings and made it easier for those who followed and who will now follow them, and to them we should all be very thankful. However, the inequality is still there, and I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault, but I do know that if girls and women set their minds to reaching the highest levels of their arena they can get there. It takes a lot of sacrifice and belief in yourself which is why my advice for young women centers on creating a platform for independence and an authentic confidence in oneself, but the work is so worth it, will serve this world for the better, and should be a priority for all in our society. We should all be feminists.