Last Friday was International Women’s Day and to celebrate, me and three of my girlfriends spent it at the cottage. It was a wonderful weekend of gifts exchanges, cooking, bonding, catching up and lots of napping!
But most importantly, it was about reconnecting, checking in and of course, because three of us work in the nonprofit sector and one is married to someone who works in the sector, much of the conversation at the beginning of the weekend revolved around our observations on the place that women have in our sector, what we wish we’d been taught at the beginning of our careers, and what challenges we still face despite some (very slow) advances.
This got me thinking …. what would I tell my younger self about being an educated, childless, career woman in this day and age. So here goes:
- Stand firm on your beliefs even when you’re alone and it’s lonely and scary. Your values are all you have to distinguish yourself from others.
- Find your tribe and spend time building relationships – they will be there for you when you need them.
- Love and appreciate those who lift you and then reciprocate and pay it forward.
- Don’t assume anything – always question, confirm and challenge anything you are unsure of.
- Make learning your lifelong mission.
- The nonprofit sector is beautiful and worthy every effort to defend it but it also has issues and can easily swallow you whole. Practice self-care first and do not apologize for doing so.
- Admit your failures, apologize and learn from your mistakes.
- Be humble but also trust the knowledge and experience you have gained over the years.
- Your voice matters. Full stop.
- Women can tear you down just as easily and fiercely as men do, and sometimes in a more conniving way. Don’t be fooled. Dust yourself off, move on, but don’t let it erode your trust in people.
- Your decision to not have children is your decision, own it and don’t let others make you feel guilty for your choices.
- Be authentic, vulnerable and true.
- Deal with your shit as soon as possible then move on. You are not responsible for other people’s shit. Got it?!
- Walk away when it’s no longer worth it, or you are being repeatedly undermined or disrespected, or being abused/bullied/harassed etc. It wasn’t your fault and their behaviour or attitude is not on you, it’s a reflection on them.
- You are smart enough, kind enough, and worthy of love. That. Is. All.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, sometimes the only thing there is to say is:
Of course, I could go on and on but these are some of the most important things I’d like to share.
What about you? What would be on your list of things to say to your younger self?