Resham Saujani is the Queen We Need to Have in Our Lives

Queen We Need to Have in Our Lives

I’d recommend this book to anyone, but specifically if you are a woman or a parent to a young girl, I’d suggest you read Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani. I’d like to preface that I am not one to read “self-help”, motivational books, but I admit that I devoured this book. The reason is because it hit very close to home.

The book discusses how girls are inadvertently conditioned from an early age to play it safe, and over-achieve without failure, and how detrimental it can be as we age. It sounds cliche and overworked but I can assure you, I met the criteria Reshma referenced in her book. It was difficult at times for me to complete a chapter because I was so stunned by how freaking accurate she was. I was moved and inspired. Truly. I literally highlighted my favorite lines from the book’; I AM NOT JOKING.

I’m sure you all can remember this advertisement created by Always. Their mission was to question the taboo statement, “like a girl”. For a while, there was stigma against girls and women, suggesting an action done “like a girl” was synonymous with being weak, slow, lame, uncoordinated, inferior. I felt an emotional sting watching the commercial for the first time because I remember feeling insulted when someone claimed I ran “like a girl”, so much so that I even spurred that insult upon others, too. I insulted myself and didn’t even question it.

These comments can be detrimental a girl’s self-esteem, especially as they enter through puberty. It reduces a young girl’s window of opportunity by confining them to societal expectations of what it takes to be an acceptable woman. They can often be coached to be more submissive and polite than boys. Young girls can often be criticized for being too loud, too honest, too controlling, too masculine, etc. You may suffer the repercussions yourself without even realizing. 

Do you feel guilty when giving genuine advice?

Are you overly critical of yourself when given negative feedback?

Do you feel the need to soften your language in emails to avoid coming across as “too aggressive”?

Do you apologize even when it isn’t necessary? 

Do you have difficulty saying no?

Based on a study conducted by the National Association of Self Esteem, they concluded that 7/10 girls don’t believe they measure up to their families or friends in regards to appearances, relationships or academic performance. 

 ThE mAdNeSs HaS tO sToP.

Not only does this affect women, but also entire communities. In fact, the opposite – empowering women is shown to provide spectacular results in society. If young girls witness women in superior positions of authority, they will feel emboldened to shoot for the moon. Women in positions of power will often possess some insight into aspects of life men may not habitually acknowledge. This isn’t a blow toward men, either. Representation matters, from the ground and up. It’s important to diversify every workplace environment, especially in legislative or executive roles, so the under-represented can have a seat at the table. 

Women are pretty spectacular. Women’s economic equality is good for business. “Companies greatly benefit from increasing employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational performance” (Facts and figures: Leadership and political participation).  Plus, there is “growing evidence that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves them” (Facts and figures: Leadership and political participation), advocating for issues such as gender inequality, electoral reform, familial and domestic violence, pensions and parental leave.

Imagine if the term “like a girl” was used to compliment someone’s skill. How would your confidence be altered? Would you be the same person you are today?

I mean, check out a few of the bad-ass women posted below, killing it in their game around the world!habitually

Malala Yousafzai – The youngest Nobel Prize winner after getting shot in the head by the Taliban defending girls’ right to an education. She is a pandemic graduate, receiving the degree she deserves from Oxford. Everything comes full circle. 

Ava Duvernay – The first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe and have an Oscar-nominated film . Her work includes A Wrinkle In Time,  the Oscar-nominated film, Selma, and her Oscar-nominated documentary, 13th, which is a very important documentary to watch on Netflix right now! She is crafting beautiful films that are highlighting the black men and women, and people of color. We can’t wait to see what her future holds!

R.B.G.- The second ever woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice and is renowned for being a strong advocate for women’s rights. She has been serving for about 25 years, even while battling cancer on four separate occasions! Oh, and she was one of the very few women in her entire graduating class at Harvard, then tied for top of her class at Cornell. Okay, girl. She is called the notorious R.B.G. for a reason. 

Angela Merkel – Often considered one of the most powerful women in the world (by Forbes and basically everyone else in the world), she became the first woman to serve as Chancellor of Germany and has maintained her role since 2005.  Plus, she has a doctorate in quantum chemistry. We stan with women in STEM! 

Nirmala Sitharaman – The Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs in India formerly served as the Defense Minister of India, becoming only the second woman to ever hold either position. She is paving the way for women in India!

Nancy Pelosi- The 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives made history when she was elected as the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in 2007. She made history in January 2019 after being reelected for her third term in the position; the first person to do so in about 60 years. Let’s here it for those nasty women!

Amina J. Mohammed- The Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, and formerly the  Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She began her career working on the project management of health, education and public sector buildings in the country, then redirected to focus more on programs to combat climate change. Sustainability is key! 

Jacinda Arden- The Prime Minister of New Zealand is one of the few empathetic leaders in the country, evoking immediate responses to aid her country in instances such as the Christchurch shooting and the COVID-19 pandemic, all while normalizing a stay-at-home father. What a queen.

A.O.C.- The U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress, and in her first Democratic primaries, she defeated her long-serving male opponent. She doesn’t apologize for being loud and opinionated, and we trust she isn’t going anywhere. 

Because of women like the few I listed above, we have advocates for girls’ education. We have women in some of the most influential jobs in the world. The status quos are being challenged, and glass ceilings are being ruptured, 

The book hit a major trigger point for me. On countless occasions, Resham identifies instances in which women feel pressured to be perfect, closing relating to a study conducted by HP that found that men will apply for a job after only meeting 60% of the qualification, and women won’t apply unless they meet 100% of the qualifications. Bro, that’s me. Why do I do that??

Personally, I’m worried about disappointing my employer, or even myself. By applying to a job that I don’t meet all the qualifications for, I deem myself over-confident. Then, I worry that I may have falsified my potential employer’s impression of me when my resume will clearly list what experience I’ve had, and my interview will solidify what personality and work ethic traits I exemplify. 

Reshma writes, “The difference between excellence and perfection is like the difference between love and obsession. One is liberating, the other unhealthy.” She’s right. Many women have been conditioned to believe we need to be perfect (Of course, there are societal issues with a woman’s ability to break through glass ceilings, and we will definitely discuss these topics in other blogs). As women, we often stress about how we may be perceived by others if we take a leap of faith and fail.  We may also be guilted by others, or identified as self-absorbed for choosing to prioritize or praise ourselves. 

Bravery comes in all forms, and oftentimes women are too scared to pursue their true passions. This can be personified in various ways. This could look like your refusal to return to school in your 30s, or change your career. It could look like your refusal to apply for a promotion or ask for a raise. It could look like your refusal to start a family simply because you don’t want to. 

Listen, ladies. Power up. Here’s some advice to carry with you, and share with your peers. 

  • If you screw up, you will not be any less of a successful, accomplished, loving, supportive, bad-ass woman. You won’t! You aren’t going to make any more or less mistakes because of your gender. They don’t correlate! You will make x amount of mistakes based on the kinds of risks you take in your life, and any man or woman can make the same number of mistakes in their lifetime. It all depends on how brave you are. 
  • Reshma references the “Power of Yet”. It changes your perspective when you begin speaking to yourself better. Tell yourself, “I’m not where I want to be in my career yet”. “I don’t feel comfortable in my body yet”. It sounds a lot more forgiving, right? You are expected to change throughout your years. It showcases your growth. 
  • Show up. Be present at the meetings, and be vocal with your opinions. Demand to be included and treated as an equal. Recognize that your seat at the table is valuable, and paves the way for women to come.
  • Don’t tear other women down. How many bright, resilient, honest and powerful women do you know who have been referred to as “bossy” or “b*tchy”? Recognize the difference, and defend your fellow woman. There is nothing more defeating than a woman tearing other woman down. 
  • Fake it until you make it, girlfriend. Confidence takes time to develop, but the only way to start is to start somewhere. Start small, and project! 

Here’s to the women working in STEM. Here’s to the women working in kitchens. Here’s to women pursing college degrees. Here’s to single mothers or stay-at-home- mothers. Here’s to the women asking for raises and promotions. Here’s to the women who uplift others. Here’s to women who woke up, grateful to be alive. 

We respect the tenacious, empathetic, emotional, bossy, motivated, friendly, loving, hilarious, bravery, courteous, imperfect women of the world who are inspiring the next generation of girls to give life a try regardless of the number of failures that could arise. Life isn’t perfect, and don’t allow yourself to believe you need to aspire to it. Dare to dream; the best and the brightest always do! I mean, the founder of Impact Everything is a woman! The store started out as a risk but perseverance pays off. Look where we are now! 

Of course one of the many causes we choose to support had to include women empowerment. The items we have in store that support through organizations such as Purpose Jewelry is a fan favorite women-owned business, with stylish pieces crafted by female survivors of human trafficking. Another company dedicated to women empowerment is Known Supply and let me tell you, you will be impressed! The business focuses on “slow fashion” ensuring all their items are made sustainably and ethically. The makers even sign every article of clothing they sew, and you can even write to them! It’s the coolest way to combat the faceless fashion industry, and humanize the labor that went into crafting your staple clothing pieces. 

Who are the women you appreciate and admire in your life? When was the last time you told them just how much value they add to your life? 

Should you take anything away from this post, tell the women in your life just how incredible they are. Let’s lift our women up. Girl. Power. 

Sources

“Facts and Figures: Leadership and Political Participation.” UN Women, June 2019, www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/leadership-and-political-participation/facts-and-figures.

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