I am my gender's biggest fan. I love being a woman, and the strongest anchors in my life have always been women. I am very lucky to have a mother who never set limitations on what she could achieve based on her sex. She was an economist, an interior designer, an aerobics instructor, an entrepreneur; professionally, she was a stud. My dad's work ethic and leadership is unparalleled, and I can only hope to apply these virtues into my own career path. What I admire most about my mom though is her fearlessness to undertake a multitude of projects and endeavors and fulfill them with excellence.
A woman's ability to multitask is an inspiring thing. Our capabilities stretch far beyond the stereotypical aspirations attached to women. Considering this, I reckon that women must make an effort to get past the bitchiness and stop unhealthily competing with one another. Empowerment >. There are so many incredible females I know who have undeniable amounts of creativity, intelligence and potential; it would be a shame to waste time and energy on putting them down. Because, really, the only time a woman is helpless is when her nail polish is drying. Instead, let these women inspire you to do better — be better, even. Let's do this...
1. Cut the negative energy and stop bashing other women.
Is it really necessary to bash other women? Don’t we have it hard enough as females on this earth? It is so easy to say mean, spiteful things about other women who have done us wrong, who have hurt us, or are even just walking down the street. Why do we do this? I know you have done it. I have done it in the past too. Criticizing other females for their flaws is more of a reflection of your insecurities; get a grip. We see a woman running down the street and we find something terrible to say about her form, her body, her gym outfit, her anything. In reality, we should be saying, “Damn girl. Look at you go. Keep running.” As women, we must begin to empower the other women around us. We really are in this together and we have fought long and hard for our place in this world. We don’t need to be holding picket signs protesting for our rights to be a woman who is fighting for the strength of the next generation. Let’s start with our sisters who cross our paths. Make it a point to see the beauty and grace of other women around you. Send her good energy and be proud of her.
2. Be a woman young girls can look up to.
I am fortunate enough to touch the lives of younger girls in my space - whether it's a teenage cousin, international exchange students I am helping, scholars in our educational foundation, or young women in my volunteer program. I always think about what they would think or feel about my actions and behavior; how I would feel if they did the very same. I am really lucky to have quite a few younger women in my life that I value and respect and I want them to know I have my shit together and I am proud of the choices I have made. I want the young girls who take the train with me in the morning to see me and know that I am respectable and dress appropriately for a 30-year-old. I want them to see that I talk to those around me with respect using language that is suitable for being in a public place. I want young women to see me and know that I am proud of myself, proud of being a woman, and that they can come talk to me about the crap we go through in life as women. I want to radiate the powerful knowledge that integrity and authenticity always win. I want to help younger women remember that we have to earn the respect we get from others, regardless of our gender or any other stupid labels floating out there that attempt to highlight superiority based on our differences . We can start earning that respect, right here, right now, all the time.
3. Respect where other women are on their own journey.
I once found myself comparing my path to the path of a woman with whom I went to undergrad with. We have the same undergraduate degree, but I went to get a masters and she went on to start a family. I see photos of her beautiful children on social media all the time, and admire how gracefully she's preserved her passions. I can only imagine how much of one's self motherhood requires. Is she happy? Maybe. I hope so. But I know in my heart I wouldn’t be happy there just yet. I know where I am right now is where I am supposed to be. I know that I am developing and growing in ways at 30 that I have never even believed could happen before. I know I am determined each day and ready for any challenges that come my way. This goes tenfold for comparing your relationships to those of other women. Relationships are a significant part of our journey. By this time in my life, I have recognized and realized that no relationship will be the same as the last and I am in no place to judge someone else’s relationship either. Let’s be clear here however, when you see something actually not okay, something that hurts your gut or you know is dangerous or unhealthy, speak up. That, my friends, is a whole different ball game.
4. Understand what it means to be a feminist.
In my undergraduate comparative world literature program, I read novels like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, A Woman Destroyed, Nervous Conditions etc. I learned a lot about myself in these classes. Thanks to a lot of stellar female classmates and incredible professors, I also learned a lot about feminism, where it came from and where feminist theory is headed. Feminists don’t hate men. In fact, it is just the opposite. Feminism defined is the belief that women and men should have equal rights. Powerful literature icons like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Tsitsi Dangaremba and so on were crusaders in the fight for equal rights for women. Yet women and men alike have challenged this and made feminism a negative word that puts feminists in this group of women who are anti-men, anti-shaving, pants-wearing, unattractive humans that no one can connect to on a neutral plane. This is full of inaccuracies. I am a self declared feminist. I want equal rights for women on all levels, but I also enjoy my weekly mani-pedis, rock dresses from Hervé Leger to Forever 21 like no one's business, love cosmetics, and surely appreciate both inner and outer beauty. Feminists want more. They don’t want gender roles to define what we can and cannot do as women. We want more for everyone, not just women.
5. Really love your body.
Growing up with asthma in a third world country was rough. It meant that every time I had an attack, putting me on steroids was the answer. I remember so many mean things that were said to me about my body when I was younger. They stick with you and torment you. Girls are so vulnerable for so many of their formative years. It took a devotion to working out and athletic training in my 20s to liberate myself from these body issues. It is only at age 30 that I am finally learning to embrace every dangerous curve in my body. I work out more days than not, I eat healthy in the sense that if I don't recognize an ingredient, I don't consume it, and I truly have grown fond of my body. Yet I still struggle. Sometimes, I still find myself criticizing myself. However, I also know the importance of taking care of myself and I know this outweighs the aforementioned self-deprecation. I know that when I am training hard, I need to eat more. I am trying to learn that when my body physically can't begin or complete a workout, I'll live to fight another day. I'm finding ways to be more mindful of what my body needs and adapt somehow. It is time for us, as women, to take control of our bodies. Be proud of what you have. Take care of it. Feed it when it is hungry and train it efficiently when you can. Be aware of your movements, and most of all, love it wholly, every little bit of it.
6. Learn how to be alone.
This is a tough one for a lot of people. We all struggle with this. But we hear about it all the time. This does not mean constantly keeping people on the back burner, holding old flames around for the hell of it, or sort-of-dating people. It means being alone, really unattached, and immersed in yourself. We all need to learn this. We need to freshly go into a new relationship; not go from one relationship to the next. There is not a set time on how long this has to last. Once you are there, you will know how much time you need. But you really have to give yourself time. I know lots of women who have never had this; women who have never genuinely been alone, women who when asked if they were single nodded their heads sharing a timid yes, but knew they could contact any number of men to keep them company later that night. I value this time as a woman deeply, although I had to learn it the hard way, but this is probably why I value being alone with myself so very much. It is during this time that I'm finding out what I really want, what is going to be worthwhile, and what I deeply desire. It is here that I am learning how to dive into a new space and person will a full heart, hopefully one day ready to love and be loved again. It is here and now that I am finding myself.
7. Be direct and clear.
We typically know what we want. So say it. You are asked what is wrong. You respond with, “Nothing.” You are asked again. Again, you say, “Nothing. I'm FINE.” Then you are an outright asshole because your significant other or anyone else in your life for that matter can’t read your mind. How is this fair to that other person? If you want something to be different, ask for it. This has to be, by far, one of the most frustrating things to witness in other females in my life. At some point in our lives we were shut down by someone or something and stopped being honest about what we want, I get it. I have seen women give in to unfair situations, lose control and regret not asking for what they deserve after the damage has been done. Fortunately for me, my maternal grandmother is such a dominant figure in our family and she raised her daughters and granddaughters to always take charge of a situation. My aunt and I were just laughing about how resilient the women are in my family; we really don't stop until we get what we want and we don't waste time. There is, however, a disclaimer here. If you aren’t ready to say what you need to say, take a breather. Walk away until you are calm and ready. Don’t put people through hell being in your presence because you aren’t ready to share what is on your mind but expect them to read it. I promise the person you choose to be honest with will get it and will respect that honesty, and will provide you with same kind of courtesy and clarity.
8. Free yourself from compliments and criticisms
I understand that it is nice to receive compliments every now then, and while we should learn to graciously accept them, they should not define us. The same goes for the haters. Personally, the only path to authenticity is to bury the ego. You've got to own who you are and own your choices. People's perception, especially about others, is in constant flux, not to mention that so much of it is more often than not self-serving, artificial, and synthetic. We cannot standardize people, their goals, and their ideas, and freeing yourself from this means building security in your own thoughts and values. An indestructible woman is comfortable with herself no matter what others say and do.
9. Master your passions and be happy.
A lot of us make the mistake of mapping out the things we need to do right in order to achieve happiness. The truth is, to master your passions is to become happy, and frankly the only way to master something is to relentlessly do it. Life has a knack for throwing us off our planned path. It’s not easy to stick through the grit to come out the other end prosperous; it takes courage and consistency to keep at it when things aren’t going quite as you had expected, and actually, this is when it really matters. There is so much delight in being able to achieve and accomplish, and sticking it out guns blazing through shit and reaping the rewards after.
As a female millennial, I have come to terms that I am not really trying to do the impossible; I simply want to do my part in eradicating the stereotypes and spreading love for fellow women. We live in a time when we all have huge potentials for success no matter who we are, and all human beings are given the same 24 hours. I am here to utilize my passions to become extraordinary, to never settle, to define what success and happiness mean to me, and then go do whatever it takes to help other women realize and achieve this as well. I truly believe in my heart that I enjoy womanhood because of this deep desire to work towards always being the best and real-est version of myself.