There is no denying that this is a unique time to be alive, and particularly to be alive as a woman.
Women are powerful leaders, facilitators and partners. The present, and future, is female.
Yet we still sell ourselves so damn short.
I was recently having a conversation with a friend who is into kitesurfing about my process of learning to surf, and how it can be difficult to get into the world of surfing as a beginner in general, but “especially as a woman”.
My friend responded with “I hate that phrase, “especially as a woman”. Women are bad*ss.”
They then went on to tell me about a female friend who picked up kitesurfing faster than any man they had tried to teach.
I love strong women and women in general. Women who pursue their dreams with fire and never, ever sell themselves short. If, like me, you can’t get enough of empowered females and their wisdom, here are five life lessons I have learned from five badass women.
1. Never let the expectations of your gender stop you. ~ Gloria Steinem
When Gloria Steinem was a young woman, a magazine editor told her “we don’t want a pretty girl, we want a writer, go home”. This strong, resilient woman did not let this stop her. She became a voice for women’s rights and has continued her work tirelessly. At 81 she published her most recent book My Life on the Road.
The societal limitations of women are getting old. Never let your idea of what you can or cannot accomplish as a woman stop you from pursuing what you want to pursue. Work tirelessly toward your dreams. We will never not need strong women pursuing what they love.
2. You gain strength from failures. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert has said, “the women whom I love and admit for their strength and grace did not get that way because sh*t worked out. They got that way because sh*t went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes“.
Gilbert shares countless stories of her years spent working as a waitress, coming home smelling like someone else’s french fries and sitting down to her “real work” as a writer. The countless rejection letters, and her stubbornness to do this work. She shared the story of her divorce and finding herself and a new love in the famous book Eat, Pray, Love.
When the world erupted around her announcement of the end of her second marriage, and the beginning of her partnership with her best friend, she was not swayed. She was vulnerable, honest and open about her process of loving this woman.
When I think of Elizabeth Gilbert, I think of resilience, strength and not being afraid to fail. Stand up, brush yourself off and carry on with a full heart.
3. Vulnerability is a strength. ~ Brené Brown
If you haven’t watched Brene Brown’s famous TED talk The Power of Vulnerability, stop what you are doing and watch it now. Through her wisdom, Brown teaches us that there is courage in being vulnerable. Vulnerability is the key to fully inhabiting our lives. She teaches that we cannot selectively numb emotion, and to feel sadness is to feel joy. To feel heartbreak is to feel love. Being vulnerable in our lives is correlated with our overall satisfaction with our existence, our ability to live with “wholeheartedness“. It is indeed not weakness, but strength.
4. Success is in your own hands. ~ Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou has said that “success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it“.
We cannot measure our success on the praise of anyone else. Success comes from inside. If you allow your self worth to exist only in your own heart, if you love your work and are respecting your own needs—this is all you need for success.
5. You are not a label, you are you. ~ Laverne Cox
In her address to Princeton University students, Cox said ”I stand before you this evening as a proud African American transgender woman from a working-class background, raised by a single mother. I stand before you as an artist, an actress, a sister and a daughter. I believe it’s important to name the various intersecting components of my multiple identities because I am not just one thing and neither are you.”
You are not your labels. And there is no pressure to be just one “thing“. You are a complex individual with vast interests and identities. Never limit yourself to being overtaken by one identity.
You are powerful beyond measure.
Author: Annabelle Blythe
Editor: Erin Lawson