“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…Your playing small does not serve the world… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Marianne Williamson
Women have a strength that is unparalleled. We grow, we nurture, we often times serve as the anchor to our families, we listen, share, collaborate, communicate, and when necessary, we survive. For me, being a woman means being strong. At the beginning of Women’s History Month, I want to talk about how we use our strength.
In her Ted talk, Eve Ensler speaks about the repression of feminine traits and characteristics in society and encourages everyone to embrace their girl cell, stop violence against women, stop oppression, and change how we view women and how women contribute to this world. At one point she states, “I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone not to be that.”
In many ways, as women, we treat ourselves and each other as less than we deserve, we allow others to shape our self-perceptions for better or worse, we judge, we minimize, etc. These actions contribute to and support a model by which the world can, and often does, treat us. What we could do is start from within, change our self- perceptions, quiet our inner critics, take a stand to support and celebrate ourselves and each other. We have the strength, combined, to demand that the world treat us how we deserve to be treated. The bottom line is this: if we do not show respect, kindness, intelligence, and courage to ourselves and each other, how can we expect it from anyone else?
Take your power, your voice, and your passion and start with you. Make the change you’ve wanted to make and know that in the process, you will make all of us better. I don’t know when the last time you heard this was, but I’m telling you now: You are bright, intelligent, beautiful, and magnificent just the way you are. I don’t care what mold you think you have to fit in, realize that you have broken it. You are an original, be proud of this.
Let’s use our strength to Support, Affirm, Lift, and Transform, like the #WLSalt Twitter community. Let’s use our strength to break down barriers, stereotypes, and gender norming like this poster that was posted to the Women’s Leadership Institute Participants & Friends Facebook page.
It starts with you, or me, in several ways:
• Be kind to yourself: start every day with a positive message to yourself or develop a mantra that you repeat to yourself when things are difficult.
• Be mindful: of your inner dialogue towards yourself and others, try your best to tame your inner critic and if you are judger – try to stop.
• Be kind to others
• Say something: to people you hear being hateful, students, colleagues, and friends. My favorite way to address these sometimes awkward situations is to respond with something positive in reaction to a negative thing being said. This way, I don’t have be confrontational or outwardly disagree, (though I’m comfortable with this if necessary – thanks for those skills Mom) but I’m representing a different perspective, my own perspective.
• Chang your inputs: reduce the negative images surrounding you (magazines, media, etc.)
• Participate: in positive and encouraging communities like #SAChat, #WLSalt, or the WLI Facebook page.
• You are in charge: of representing yourself, all of you, to the fullest – so do it well.
I want us to use our strength, the strength of women, to rise above the stereotypes, the media images, the violence, and the bullying to be better women, role models, and mentors. By changing our attitude towards one another, we can change the attitude of the world towards all women. Let’s embrace ourselves, and our own light, so that by doing so, other women and men can be inspired, empowered, and encouraged to do the same.
Take a minute and think about the following things. What small change could you make from the inside out? How do your thoughts, words, and actions impact you and others in a positive way? How do you support, affirm, lift, and transform? I look forward to hearing from you. ~ @CijiAnn