Why I Have A Problem With “Women Make Better Leaders” Studies.

What does it take to be a leader? I’d argue that the answer to that question has to change depending on whether you’re a male or a female.

While Routledge and LeaderShape Global have identified the transpersonal leader as the leader we need (and the leader we have in women), my experience has me wondering: is that really what we’re asking for? 

What is a transpersonal leader?

  • Someone who can authentically and ethically change the behavioral DNA of an organization.
  • A person that has the ability to build strong, collaborative teams.
  • A person that creates a performance-enhancing culture – a culture that values performance and ethics equally.
  •  A leader that is radical, ethical, caring, and emotionally intelligent.
  • An individual that is constantly learning and growing.

It’s a tall order. A personality mix that, according to Routledge, women excel in with gold stars. Women outperformed men on 15 of the 19 characteristics listed as indicative of this type of leadership. 

But is this really the leader we want?

Women make up the majority of the population, but the minority of leadership roles. This begs the question: if women possess the leadership style we crave so much, why aren’t there more female leaders?

Despite women holding nearly 52% of professional jobs, they account for less than 20% of leadership positions, across the board. The women’s leadership gap is real. But it’s also real backward when it appears that the traits a leader needs are so innately female traits.

According to American Progress, “It’s now estimated that, at the current rate of change, it will take until 2085 for women to reach parity with men in leadership roles in our country.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 2.49.39 PM

Women make better leaders, but we don’t want them to lead.

Which leads me to why I’m sick of all these studies on how women make better leaders.

While we say that we need the leader that encourages collaboration, is inspiring, focuses on team development, and blends performance and ethics together, what we do is continue to promote those that, quite frankly, exhibit the opposite. 

We’re addicted to perfection. And this means that we “don’t have the time” to focus on collaboration and development – we need to focus on action. That means leaders that are blunt, results-only oriented, and direct will rise to the top.

While those that are collaborative, transformational, and focused on mentorship tend to lag behind.

A personal anecdote… 

While discussing this gender bias with a female colleague a bit senior to me, her advice to me was that, in her experience, if I wanted to get ahead of these problems, I’d have to decide how much I’d be willing to conform.

No. No. No.

Companies value certain characteristics in a leader. It’s often an unconscious bias, but it exists. Women that I’ve confided in about this have often told me that in their experience, despite being told their personalities were what they needed and wanted when they acted those traits out, they were not well received.

We want a woman leader who is strong and action-oriented. But we’ll call her a “bitch” when she doesn’t agree with everything.

We want a woman leader who is collaborative with her team. But we’ll urge her to move faster when she’s taking a bit longer to execute.

We want a woman leader who focuses on emotional intelligence. But we’ll argue with her leadership style when she values employees’ feelings over micromanagement.

We want a woman leader that is constantly growing. But instead of providing her with access to training, we’ll brush off her mentorship needs.

If we want more women in leadership, we need to put them there.

So here’s my call to action, so to speak. Let’s stop talking about all the reasons why women make better leaders and just let them lead.

This means women (and men) need to support women.

  • Don’t call ambition by any other word but that. She’s not a bitch, she’s just driven.
  • Stop using the phrase “too nice” when referring to women. She can be taken seriously, despite being sweet as sugar, if you take her seriously.
  • Invite her to the table. Notice a woman isn’t present that should be? Make sure she’s there next time.
  • Stop underestimating her (and yourself). The best revenge is your success. The best thing a supporter of a female-leader can do is praise that success.
  • Make female leadership the norm. Once one female gets to the top, bring some more women with you.

And finally, if you are a female leader (or wannabe), and you find yourself doubting your awesome or struggling to put to words the bias, talk about it. We’re not going to get anywhere if we allow the studies on why women are amazing leaders to block out all the real women talking about how they struggle when they exhibit those studies. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Started Reading A Book A Week, Happiness Followed

Growing up, you could say I was a bit of a “book worm.” While I have many fond memories of childhood, the one that stands out to me pretty clearly as my “first” memory is in the first grade.

It was early on in the school year, and each week we’d been given lists of new words we had to learn to read on our own. Once a week, we had to read those lists out loud to our teacher, one by one. If we went through the whole list, we’d get a new list. If not, we’d have to take it home again and practice.

I finished all those damn lists within the first two weeks of school.

Twenty plus years later, I’m well aware of my “achiever” strength, so this isn’t as shocking or hysterical.

Despite that being my earliest memory, somewhere along the way, I forgot about that 7-year old. I lost that fire inside that loved to read and write… despite being a writer for my full-time job. 

What became more important? A whole mess of things. At one point, it might have been “college” and “term papers” and even “exams.” After that, it was likely the drive to build a career, and then to get ahead in my career.

There will always be an excuse to put what you love to the side for what you deem you need to do.

books!

My sister, upon seeing this photo joked about the shape of some of the presents being “books”

Instead of reading books about post-apocalyptic worlds, gripping love stories, and memoirs, I was reading articles on content strategy and revenue tactics for marketers. I was reading, right? 

Wrong.

The whole world can’t be about work and your career. Sometimes it has to be about a beach town murder mystery or a 1960s cult.

I can’t pinpoint whether or not it was Amazon’s Kindle sale or my reconnection with Belle when I saw the new Beauty and the Beast, but in the last several months, I’ve begun, unconsciously, reading a book a week. 

My list so far… in no particular order, as I don’t remember, and without commentary, as GoodReads handles that for me.

  1. Drop the Ball – Tiffany Dufu
  2. The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles
  3. This Was Not The Plan – Cristina Alger
  4. The Girls – Emma Cline
  5. Startup – Doree Shafrir
  6. Feminist Fight Club – Jessica Bennet
  7. Me After You  – Jojo Meyers
  8. How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
  9. Grain Brain – David Perlmutter
  10. All Grown Up – Jami Attenberg
  11. All Our Wrong Todays –  Elan Mastai
  12. The Circle – Blake Crouch
  13. Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1) – Blake Crouch
  14. Wayward (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 2) – Blake Crouch
  15. The Last Town (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 3) – Blake Crouch
  16. Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
  17. Room – Emma Donoghue

On the docket… 

*As in, purchased and ready to read at any moment I finish a book.

  • Cork Dork – Bianca Bosker
  • The Weekenders *Currently DEVOURING
  • I Thought It Was Just Me – Brene Brown * Not everything is an alternate reality
  • Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee
  • Plus All of These

Reading has become an addiction for me once again. Almost every other day I find myself in a hole going from one book description to another, making my Amazon list longer and longer. In fact, I even started a book club at work.

And I feel happier than I have in a long time. Gone are the nights I sat in bed unable to sleep, mindlessly scrolling social media. Instead, I find myself looking at the clock thinking about how I’ll need to get to sleep soon so I can get enough rest for the next day… but just one more chapter. 

Ray Bradbury said, “you must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you”.

Ray Bradbury was a genius.

A Lot Happens In 5 Years.

Do you ever stop and look back at where you were, where you are now, and where you’re going?

Thanks to a society built around forward-motion and a constant “on” switch, you likely haven’t. Me either.

But, I’ve been doing a lot of digging into the depths of my soul lately.

Am I where I am supposed to be? Have I accomplished what I should have by now? Am I on the path to where I want to be? And where the heck do I want to be, anyway?

Recently, I was asked to speak to admitted students and their families at my alma mater. (I just can’t say no to that place). I’ll be talking about my experiences during my time there, my journey since then, and offering advice.

It’s been 5 years since I left college. And ya know what I realized while thinking about what I might say to these students on the cusp of entering college?

A heck of a lot happens in 5 years.

While it’s happening, you have no idea, but man things are moving fast…. 

  • 2 – The number of states I’ve lived in
  • 3- The number of jobs I’ve had
  • 4- The number of “homes” I’ve moved in and out of (some perhaps faster than my dad liked)
  • 3- The number of cities I’ve lived in
  • 7- The number of times my job title has changed, either through promotion or change in direction
  • 4- The number of times I’ve traveled outside the country
  • 20+- The number of concerts I’ve been to
  • 2- The number of times I saw Billy Joel in 1 of those 5 years
  • 5- The number of birthday “weeks” I’ve celebrated
  • 2- The number of surgeries I’ve had
  • 4- The number of 5Ks I’ve completed
  • 1.5- The number of nephews my heart has exploded for
  • 1- The number of times I’ve gone to Disney World
  • 23- The number of times I’ve road tripped back and forth to Long Island
  • 3- The number of road trips I’ve taken to unexplored places nearby
  • 1- The (perfect) number of puppies I’ve adopted

You know what I didn’t include in this list? The number of times I’ve felt lost, scared, like a failure, or cried. The journey is paved with trials and tribulations, but it doesn’t make it less exciting.

I’ve been so focused on what my next move is, what my next step in the journey is that will get me to the end goal, that I forgot to stop and look around at the number of big deal, totally freaking awesome, life events and accomplishments that have happened in the last 5 years.

It’s all too easy to get lost in everyone else’s journey… and to compare yours to theirs. The challenge is to look deep inside yourself. What is your journey? What twists and turns will you take? That is, after all, what makes you… well you.

 

 

I Tricked Myself Into Being A Morning Person.

It took me 5 years of stubbornness (and about 15 pounds) to realize that I could no longer go on as a “night person”.

After reading Lean In, and countless other books about women and empowerment, I realized something: I wasn’t listening to my body.

Here was the routine: get up, get dressed, eat quickly, go to work, grind, work out. And I use work out loosely here. Over time, my workouts got shorter, I was sweating less and dreading more.

I was also not fitting into my clothes anymore. 

For a person who sees running as a form of stress relief, it was really stressing me out that I was too tried to run… and let’s not even go into the body image frustrations.

So a year ago, I told myself enough was enough.

I set the alarm for 5:00 AM for the first time.

In order to feel good about myself, I decided, I’d need to start working out earlier in the morning. Since my workouts are heavy on cardio, I’d need to get up real early to get my full run in and get ready for the day. Challenge accepted.

The first few weeks, I am pretty certain I thought I was going to die. I was passing out on the couch by 8 PM at night. But here’s what I wasn’t doing: feeling exhausted at work, being unproductive, sleeping through my workouts… gaining weight.

So how did I trick myself into springing out of bed at 5:00 AM as if it was noontime? 

I embraced my strengths: I am an achiever and a competitor – so I challenged myself to small goals. Get up and work out 3 days a week, gold star. Get up and work out 4 days, gold star. Do it every day? Achievement unlocked. You win, Theresa.

In my mind, NOT waking up and getting to the gym was losing. Type A achievers don’t lose.

What else helped?

  • I started using a sleep monitoring app. A quiet little reminder tone at 10 PM every night lets me know that if I want my 7 hours, I’ve got to get to bed.
  • I stopped watching TV before bed. There’s so much out there on the impact of screens so I won’t bore you here, but I replaced that binge with reading (win-win).
  • I committed to not checking in with my phone until after my workout. Everyone knows how much a workout, no matter how long, can alter your mood for the better. I stopped checking emails, Instagram, Snapchat, all of it… until after my workout.
  • I rewarded myself. Work out in the morning, get an iced coffee at the cafe next door. I know, I know, spending money on a coffee every day can add up, but so does the cost of exhaustion.

This doesn’t come without challenges. Getting up early and spending time at the gym before work means the rest of your morning routine needs to be optimized, too. And I sure did learn this the hard way.

Some lessons I am still working on….

  1. Don’t leave planning what you’re going to wear for when you get up / get home from the workout. (I admit defeat here. But I do wish I planned my outfit out the night before every single day when I am running around half dressed thinking “shit what necklace matches with this sweater?!”)
  2. Embrace the mess. My morning routine usually involves me running around cleaning up after the dog, my rushed boyfriend, myself. But is cleaning out the blender before leaving for work really going to make or break my day? Nope.
  3. Meal prep. Meal prep. Meal prep. About 6-months into my new “morning person” life, I also embraced meal prep. For the purposes of being a morning person, the key is lunch prep. Whether you’re doing an Insta worthy meal-prep or just making a salad, do it the night before and save stress.

What does my routine look like now?

5:00 AM – Alarm soothes me awake (Seriously, that “Sleep App” is amazing).

5:15 AM – Gym clothes are on (I laid them out the night before) and I’m walking the pup.

5:30 AM- Pre-workout grabbed and out the door.

5:45 AM- Arrive @ Gym. Run run run.

7:15 AM Post-workout coffee

7:30 AM – Smoothie time @ Home

Shower, get dressed and ready for the day, out the door and in the office by 9:00 AM.

And you know what the best part is?

At 5 o’clock, I can just go home.

 

 

Doing more by doing less.

“Just because you’re better at doing something doesn’t mean you doing it is the most productive use of your time.”- Drop the Ball

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what enables me to thrive. And I don’t mean the 32 oz of coffee I consume before 9AM or the 5 miles I run at 5AM every day. Those are things I do to keep me healthy and productive (and arguably are insane). I mean what is it about my everyday routines that I am most successful doing?

Recently, I was put in charge of a small team at work. I’d asked for this. I’d worked my ass off for this. But something weird happened… I felt “unproductive” and “useless”. In fact, when told of my promotion by my boss, I walked into the meeting thinking “…welp, this is it. I am getting fired on a Tuesday.” 

(When I told my mentor about that, she laughed and said, “… what in the world would make you think you’d get fired, your work is exceptional.”) Ha.

Why was I feeling that way?

Turns out, while I am not happiest completing monotonous routines, I feel most productive with them in place. If I can’t check it off on a “to do list” then did I really accomplish anything? It’s a slippery slope. It can lead to taking on tasks you don’t need to be doing – or in my case, shouldn’t be doing, in place of more important responsibilities.

Being promoted to a leadership role where my function was no longer measured by the number of blogs I wrote or social media engagements I curated was jarring for me. I found myself continuing with those kinds of tasks every day – despite having a team focused on them that were completely capable of doing so.

I made up plenty of reasons to rationalize it: “Oh, I’m faster at drafting a launch blog I’ve done so many.” or “They don’t like Twitter so I’ll do it so they can do what they enjoy.”

Then it just sort of hit me like the third glass of champagne: doing more monotonous tasks gives the tasks I am best suited for less time. Doing more means I am really doing less of what’s important and impactful.

I need to do less to do more.

I’m not going to lie and say that once I made that realization suddenly the heavens opened up and everyone around me commended me on how amazing I am (validation needs, ammiright?)

But what did happen was that now I find myself hyper-focused on what I can do to move the needle and make an impact: for my team, for our goals, and for myself.

In a world where every second is consumed by information, it can be really hard to take a step back and let something go.

In my case, letting go of tasks that I had done on my own for so long to let my team take them on means that I can focus on new tasks that are focused on making the whole team bigger, faster, stronger.

do-less

 

5 Ways In Which Bringing Home A Puppy Changes Your Relationship

This is Sam. Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 9.45.29 PM

We brought Sam home to our family when I was 15 years old. He was my 9 year old sister’s “birthday present”. He was the family dog.

I taught Sam how to jump (be placing him on a chair in the middle of the kitchen and calling his name until he stopped being afraid of the height, because I was 15 guys). While I wasn’t the one getting up every 3 hours to take him on a walk in his infancy (sorry, mom!) I was old enough to know what raising a puppy required.

I was also old enough to remember the sight of our kitchen table once Sam was done teething.

Present Day

This is Nyla. Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 9.45.37 PM

We, as in my boyfriend of 5 years and I, brought Nyla home about 3 weeks ago.

She is our dog.

But don’t tell her that. If you asked her, we are actually her humans, only existing to coddle her, snuggle her, feed her and serve as her personal chew toy.

Nyla is an Alaskan Klee Kai. We “discovered” her breed a mere 2 weeks prior to bringing her home. You can say many things about my boyfriend, but indecisive is not a trait he possesses.

Deciding we had to have her and bringing her home though, that was the easy part. It’s only been a few weeks, but here’s what I’ve learned so far about what bringing home an 8-week old puppy means for your relationship… 

5- This is how well you work as a team.

Bringing home a puppy means your “you time” is now “everyone’s time”. Say goodbye to laying in bed sleepily before work, the dog needs to be walked and it’s  your turn. Oh it’s not your turn? Well who got up and walked Nyla at 3 a.m. then? Right, you slept. It was me.

I may have thought we were a team before – vacations, family stuff, health stuff – you go through it all in 5 years, but this is when you really figure it out.

4- Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

As soon as you bring the puppy home, you have to determine a few … boundaries.

  • Will the dog be allowed on the couch?
  • Will she be allowed to eat her treats on the bed/couch/anywhere you sit?
  • Is she going to sleep in bed with you?
  • Who is going to walk her?
  • Who is going to take breaks to go home from work and take the dog out?

Whether or not you agree on the answers, they have to be answered. In our case, this often led to bickering (that was mostly a result of exhaustion from not sleeping).

This too shall pass.

3- How much love is too much love?

Like I said, I’ve owned a dog before. My boyfriend though, nope. That’s all you need for the arguments to start… 

  • No, I don’t know everything about raising a dog, but do you?
  • No, I am not telling you what do do.
  • Yes, I am worried she’s over attached.
  • No, Sam did not do this.
  • Yes, we should crate train and I don’t feel bad she’s crying – she’ll get used to it.

At our first session with the dog trainer, my boyfriend was kindly alerted that he was over-coddling. Hate to say I told you so (so I did not) but I did ask the trainer if she’d come live with us.

2- Someone has to watch the puppy.

Whether it’s a shower or a Canadian vacation, someone has to watch the puppy. Tricky, huh?

At 8-weeks old, it’s not reasonable to think Nyla can be left out of our site for even one minute (or she’ll eat my throw pillows, which I suspect my boyfriend would be okay with anyway).

This means that you better be comfortable with never being alone again (at least for the next 6 months). This also means you two better figure out how to both manage a shower once a day.

Oh and that Canadian vacation, let’s just hope you also have a relative willing to cancel
their 4th of July plans to stay at your house with your 12- week old puppy who may or may not have budding separation anxiety due to her over-coddling parents…

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 10.00.38 PM1- The puppy’s love is unconditional.

So stop fighting over who she loves more.

… but it’s me.

Just kidding, she definitely loves him more… sigh.

 

 

 

3 Pieces Of Advice For A Writer To Live By

From deadlines over dinner to long hours over sleep, there are so many choices writers have to make.

In this “always on” world, if you’re not producing, you might as well not exist (because no one can hear you anyway). When I was young in my career, the idea of always moving from one thing to the next excited me – I even asked for it. But as my career has evolved and grown, I’ve learned 3 things about the cycle of being a writer (whether for yourself or a company).

1- We’re Not Saving Lives, We’re Marketers

Hands down, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given. I (like all you other writers and marketers out there) have a tendency to PANIC. What if we don’t get enough leads? What if I don’t write that extra blog? Do you think 60 pages is long enough for an eBook? Is this subject line going to boost our open rate?

What if it all doesn’t work though, really? You try again. Sure, deadlines and goals exist for a reason and I sure as hell strive as hard as anyone else to read them, but no one is going to die if I plug the wrong keyword into Yoast. I’m a marketer. There will be a chance to back up and try it again.

2- If You Can’t Control It, Let It Go

Elsa had something to that “Let It Go” rant (err song) in Frozen. Apologies for that being stuck in your head until next week.

Sometimes, you can’t control the outcome. All you can do is put your best foot (hand?) forward and write like hell. At the end of the day, if someone else is in charge of promotion and they drop the ball, it’s only on you to provide them that feedback.

You can’t control the world, girlfriend, you can only throw on your highest heels and conquer it.

3- It’s All About How You Respond

More often than not, it’s not the situation that’s plaguing you. It’s how you’re responding to it. As cliche as it sounds, negativity only breads more negativity.

So what if your email campaign didn’t perform as expected, sitting there complaining about wha went wrong does nothing but put you in a worse mood. Instead, try coming up with an action plan to crush it next time around.

What advice have you gotten that has changed how you exist at work?

4 Things Your Mentor Should Teach You About Marketing

Once upon a time, I was a displaced New Yorker trying to make an impact in my first job after college. Always wanting to be 5 steps ahead while only taking 2 steps to get there, I fiercely chased new skills and sought out bigger opportunities and challenges.

All of us can remember the exact moment when someone older and wiser than us took a genuine interest in our growth. That first person who saw our potential and thought, “I want to help this person grow”.

I got lucky. That person was my second manager at that first job. Years later, we’ve worked apart and then worked back together again. We’ve been on different teams at the same company, then split apart and put back together again. But the one thing that never changed, despite job titles, team structures and even physical location was this: without that mentorship, I’d still be trying to figure out “who I want to be when I grow up”.

Leaders Do Not Equal Mentors, But Mentors Equal Leaders

Managers tell you where you are. Leaders tell you where you’re going.

The importance of mentorship in any career should not be understated. In the fast paced, always changing industry that is marketing, mentorship should be a requirement for entry… having one that is, because as you’ll see, the actual act of being a mentor is not as simple as having a few years of experience.

Marketers today are asked to be many things – sometimes all at the same time. More often than not, we learn on the job… after all, some functions of our job didn’t exist a year ago, and in two more years, new functions will need to be mastered.

It is only when you have a good mentor that you will learn these 4 things:

1. You’re Not The Smartest One In The Room

But that doesn’t mean you should leave the room. It’s essential to career growth to stay in rooms where you have a lot to learn. You can run your own company or hold the highest title on the marketing team, but everyone has something they can teach you.

Take advantage of this by asking the right questions and being thoughtful of how you spend your time with everyone you encounter in your career.

2. If You Don’t Speak Up For Yourself, Why Should Anyone Else?

I have been fortunate in my career to have mentors and managers who were willing to advocate for me… to put themselves on the line to allow others to see my value.

More often than not, however, you won’t have your own private cheer squad… so you have to learn to speak up for (and about) yourself. Get comfortable advocating for yourself. Start by understanding what you want out of your career and what your last play is going to be.

Now that you know the answer to that, you can work on how to get there … and become more comfortable advocating for your successes.

3. Never Become Comfortable With Complacency

It can be all too easy to fall into a routine. You’re getting better at your job, metrics are on the rise and those around you know your value and tell you so.

Time to throw a wrench in it.

If you’re too comfortable you’re not being challenged. If you’re not being challenged then you’re not growing. And unless you’re making your last play, you should be growing.

4. Emotional Intelligence Is Worth It’s Weight In Gold

When you are sincere, you are more valuable. At the end of the day, whether you’re a marketing executive, a writer or an operations specialist, you are a human first. When you remember that about yourself, and everyone else around you, there is more to learn than you can imagine.

For many, this will be tough. To listen more and speak less, to truly hear the stories of those around you, opens you up to new opinions and critical feedback. The more you do it, the more you grow.

 

When Your Health (Shouldn’t) Take A Backseat

I like to think of myself as a fairly healthy person. I run 6 days a week, I eat a balanced diet of champagne and cheese (kidding, kind of), and I take my vitamins.

But here’s the thing I’ve learned: your body doesn’t care how many vitamins you take. If you’re overworked, underslept, and downright run down, you’re basically a ticking time bomb.

The Case For Personal Days

I’ve always been one of those people that tries hard not to take a personal day. Sure, I plan my vacations out and I take some time during the holidays for family, but unless I have a dangerously high fever (seriously, that’s my standard) I go to work.

In the last few years, that method has served me well. Maybe it hasn’t served my man-mate well since he gets to listen to me complain about my ailments and refusal to take a personal day – but I’ve gotten by just fine.

Except personal days exist for a reason, right?

When Work Takes Over (For Better Or For Worse)

In the last few months, I was part of a small marketing team responsible for rebranding our company. The days were long, the nights were longer, and in the final days up to the “launch” sleep was pretty much optional.

It really should have come as a surprise to me when on the final day, after working late into the night with my team and arriving at 5AM to the office to flip the proverbial switch, I was feeling delirious… and sick.

But what I did next was the problem, and a problem that I hope by sharing with you all, you think about next time you’re feeling run down: I ignored it.

I had so much catching up on life to do! Who cares if my body was begging me to slow down, I had errands to run, a nail appointment, and groceries weren’t going to buy themselves!

Fast Forward

Here we are now, it’s May. After 2 full months of being a “rebranded company”, the work hasn’t stopped (naturally) so the proverbial “break” I planned to take when things “slowed down”, didn’t exactly come… until my body quite literally said “ENOUGH”.

A trip to the emergency room ruled out my appendix as the problem on the day it all came to a crashing halt, but the weeks following, well let’s just say I should have done something sooner. I’ve now been to FOUR doctors and been on multiple medications. In fact, I have to take a particular set of medications morning and evening… while on my trip to Aruba for that vacation this week.

Lesson Learned

It took my parents and my significant other demanding I sought out a doctor for me to put myself first. And it’s time that stopped. At the end of the day, I wasn’t exactly a dream employee when I had to abruptly take 3 days off to get treatment for what was wrong.

If you listen to your body, if you take the time you need when you need it, your work doesn’t suffer. If you ignore it though, your personal life, your health and your job suffers. Which is really the better option?

 

In Which I Realized I May Be A “Feminist”

I was 15 years old when my Spanish teacher pulled me aside and suggested I walk home during my lunch period and change into something “less revealing”.

I was wearing denim shorts and a t-shirt and it was at least 90 degrees in our non-air conditioned school.

The school dress code was clear: girls should not wear clothing that is deemed revealing – including, but not limited to, short shorts, tank tops with thin straps, belly shirts, and mini skirts.

Did I go home to change?

Not a chance.

What Is A Feminist?

“Feminists are people playing the race card about gender.”

“Feminists are just women who are complaining.”

“Feminists are women who want attention.”

The idea of feminism gets a bad reputation. But once you tell a story about the treatment of women, of young girls, suddenly you get one of two responses:

  1. Outrage: How can that be allowed, how can women (or girls) be treated that way
  2. Blame: Well if you had stood up for yourself, it wouldn’t be a problem.

I happen to think both responses are one of the same. Both outrage and blame are non-actions.

Feminism = Media Literacy?

The fact is this: the first time I heard the term “feminism,” I too had an adverse reaction. I told myself I did not want to be associated with it. Instead, I hid behind the idea of “media literacy.”

I was outraged about how women were treated, and I threw blame around – not at the women who were being treated unjust, but at society and media as a whole.

In college, finding me in a heated debate about the way young girls were treated by the media, schools, and our culture was a standard – but I didn’t call it feminism, I was simply discussing the injustices as they related to this idea of “media literacy”.

And then it happened.

Perception Is Reality?

“She Looks Like A Valley Girl.”

I was nearly 2 years into my first job after college. I had proven myself time and time again by taking on new tasks, learning new skills, and mentoring my peers. I had been promoted and recognized and I felt accomplished.

That was at least until one of my peers, a senior level management professional, decided it was time to give me some advice.

“You’re too nice to be taken seriously,” he said.

“You really should dress more plain, no one will ever consider you for a leadership position.”

“You’re just going to have a hard time in life because you’re a woman and you’re pretty.”

For 30 minutes, I was subjected to an onslaught of “advice” about being a woman in the workplace and how I should change my looks, demeanor and personality to better-fit society’s expectations.

And what was I supposed to say? I was 22 years old surrounded by men. And whats worse is that I knew he’d already told other co-workers about his feelings about my “Valley Girl” personality.

Because all blondes are ditzy. All women are inferior.

This Is What A Feminist Looks Like

It was that moment that I realized something: I am a feminist.

I believe that young girls should grow up in a world where they know society values them for the contributions they can make. I believe that women should stop competing with one another and instead band together to combine the immense power they all possess.

I believe that women should be able to fight back against perceptions and stereotypes that are untrue. And I believe that we should be able to ask for what we want – and get it.

But believing in it doesn’t do a thing. In the words of John Mayer, we’re all waiting on the world to change.

A feminist looks like me – even if I didn’t know it right away. And a feminist looks like someone who will stand up for what she believes in – making sure everyone hears her along the way.

A feminist is just a powerful woman ready to take on the world.

So why call her a feminist anyway, isn’t she just a woman?