Happy International Women’s Day!
To be female is a unique privilege, power, and challenge all in one. Ladies, take some time today to recognize your unique strength, resilience, discipline, determination, beauty, intelligence, and self-worth. Men, take some time to recognize your mother, sister, daughter, wife, girlfriend, etc. in all that she does.
While I am grateful for every experience I have had, especially the failures, heartbreak, and missteps, as those are the greatest opportunity for growth and learning just how strong one is, I feel a deep mission to make things better, easier, more equal, and more fair for future generations of women.
That said, a few things I know now that I wish I knew then…
- It’s okay to fail. In fact, sometimes the most magnificent failures ultimately result (with time) in the best outcomes.
- It’s okay to change your mind – about career path, about love, about what you want out of life… you will change your mind and your course at some point, and that’s okay.
- It’s okay to stop at nothing to get the life and realize the dreams you have – even if that means making very difficult decisions and sacrifices.
- It’s okay to walk away.
- It’s okay to be alone. Being alone is the best opportunity to chase your dreams and goals, totally unimpeded and uninterrupted. When you can learn to be happy alone, when you can learn to love yourself without permission from anyone else, you will realize that you have just been re-born and that strength, self-confidence, and assurance that you are enough will remain when you do meet someone.
- There is no right time to tick boxes for societally-determined life milestones – nor do you have tick to any/all of them. Starting a degree, completing a degree, getting married, having children, starting a career path, changing careers… when and if these things happen to you, it will be at the right time for you.
- Your value and self-worth are in NO WAY connected to numbers on a scale or pant/dress size. The sooner you learn this, the sooner you will start to respect yourself and turn your energy into other thoughts, ideas, dreams, and endeavors that are actually worthy of your time.
- You have the unique privilege (and challenge) of major hormonal fluctuations, which influence everything from your brain chemistry to your motor skills and psychological state, and you do it all anyway. There is so much power in cranking through all the things when you feel terrible – emotionally, physically, and mentally. A younger Laura used to plan to “give up” if I felt terrible for a big swim meet, an important social event, a significant presentation. Now? I view it as an opportunity to nail it (race, presentation…) in spite of not feeling 100%. This is so uniquely female and so empowering once you change your mindset. It is not an excuse, it is validation of your strength and perseverance.
- You will survive a heartbreak. I know in the moment it feels like you cannot pick up the pieces. I also know that, the more heartbreaks you experience the more it feels like: “I cannot do this again. There’s no way I can go through this again and survive.” You can. Even if you feel the loss for the rest of your life, you can get through it, and you will.
- Never lose sight of where you’ve come from. In order to survive, you will develop thicker skin, you will develop boundaries, you will have to make difficult decisions and face uncomfortable controversies. But you do not have to lose your compassion, your empathy, or your belief that people are good. No matter where you find yourself planted, don’t forget your roots.
- Always thank your parents and tell them you appreciate them. They gave you the foundation to become who you are today. Pick up the phone and call them. Spend time with them any chance you can.
- Spend time with your grandparents. They won’t always be around and they have a tremendous amount of wisdom and life experience. They also love you unconditionally and accept you exactly as you are – let them into your life, that’s all they want.
- You are enough. Wherever you are right now, it is enough. You are enough.
Dream on girls, nothing is too big or too small to achieve.
Run on, my friends.