Before I begin with this post I want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to everyone who has been reading my posts and thank you especially to those who reach out to me in person and those who have been sharing my content. It means the world to me that you’re taking time out of your day to read what I have to write and that I get to have influence on at least one person. When I started this blog I was very doubtful; I was afraid of putting myself out there and even more scared that I’d be writing content that nobody would read. My goal wasn’t to grow super big but rather to be a source of motivation and empowerment for other girls and young women from underrepresented groups, and every day I strive to reach more and more people. Thank you for being a loyal reader and thank you for motivating me to continue with my goal.
This post is a topic I found very necessary to write about. Our patriarchal society makes it really hard for women to succeed, yet when we do often times we find ourselves lost and without direction; it’s as if the system was purposely built to keep us down. I’m so very fortunate to be in a position of leadership on campus, but I myself have experienced moments and have had thoughts that I know none of my male peers have been confronted with. Do I love everything that I do? Of course! Is it emotionally and mentally taxing being in a woman in a leadership position? Absolutely. While I can’t speak for everyone, I’ve learned that in order for my efforts to be valued and recognized I have to work 10 times harder than my male counterparts and abide by so many unwritten rules men don’t even have to think about. It’s discouraging, but necessary, and through my experiences I’ve learned there are a couple of keys to not cracking under the pressure.
Don’t Overthink Mistakes
Disappointing people sucks, especially when you feel the pressure of trying to prove that you’re worthy of being in a position of power, but guess what? Mistakes are inevitable and everybody makes them, regardless of your gender. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of constantly relating your identity to your actions; yes, be a girl boss, but let errors take their natural course and reflect on them as an independent matter. There will obviously be people who will jump at the chance to call you out on them, but you can’t let the fear of messing up dictate every single move you make.
Seek a Mentor
As children we always had role models who we looked up to and wanted to emulate, whether they were people we saw on TV or read about in books, but having a genuine admiration for someone who you can have a conversation with from time to time is an invaluable gift. Mentors are people who will advise you based on their own experience and who will help guide you through your own journey, whether it be personal or professional. As a woman it’s extremely important to confide in other women who have been through what you’re currently experiencing and who have overcome the obstacles you’re facing. I’m so grateful to have a mentor of my own (shout out to Kristen ❤) for without her I’d honestly be lost and making blind decisions. Do not be afraid to reach out to other women you admire because most of the time they want to help you.
Quit Trying to Be Likable
One of the biggest responsibilities leaders face is making tough decisions that will inevitably affect the people you’re working with, and there will always be somebody who has something to say about that. You’re either too assertive, or not assertive enough, or there’s someone waiting to “mansplain” the situation or take credit for your ideas. It’s tough out here for women, but you won’t get paid for all the time spent thinking about how to be more likable to your peers. So what if people say you’re too commanding or “bossy” (let’s take a moment to cringe)? That’s your job. You will never be able to please everybody, but if you know you’re trying your best then you have to learn to be okay with that and ignore the background noise.
Make Tough Decisions with Confidence
First of all, if you’re a leader that means you’ve got to have some type of confidence; you didn’t get up there for nothing. Learning to maintain that confidence, however, is the obstacle at hand because nobody takes an indecisive or hesitant leader seriously. No matter how easy or difficult a decision is for you, make sure you’re presenting it with utmost confidence and actually follow through with it. When you present your plans with certainty, have a clear reasoning for your decisions, and provide detailed steps people will listen. Be professional and stern and show people that you know what you’re doing even if you feel like you don’t, but don’t forget to ask for help when you need to. You’re not superwoman, so don’t put all of the pressure on yourself!
Invest in Yourself
The sad reality is that as a woman my appearance will be put under much more scrutiny than my male counterparts, but I’m not going to use this section to tell you to invest in your looks or wardrobe. It does feel nice to splurge on a nice pair of shoes or a different hairdo once in a while but nothing will shine through as much as investing in your inner-self. Invest in your hobbies, in your professional skills, or even your spiritual journey- invest in the things that bring you happiness and opportunities. If you think learning code will make you stand out in the workplace then learn it, or if painting is your favorite hobby but you rarely have them then make time. Be kind to your soul!
Stop Waiting for Gratitude
This has been my biggest issue y’all- no matter how much work you do or how much time you put into things you have stop waiting for everybody to say “thank you.” Of course there are people who will notice your work, but if you expect everyone to show gratitude for every little task you do then most of the time you will just end up disappointed and feel discouraged. Do things because you love to do it and let the growth of your endeavors be your source of satisfaction. With due time you will see results and the product of your efforts will speak for itself.