It took me a long to to realize that this is probably the most powerful statement of a female’s life:
“Girls compete with each other and women empower each other.”
As you grow up a female, there are lots of odds against you and not a lot of support along the way when you need it most – at your most challenging years. Myself included, at 18 I was at a crossroads. I didn’t have any support or guidance and I realized that I could either suck it up and actually do something for myself like go to college and get an education, or I could continue down the dangerous road of a carefree lifestyle.
I didn’t want to go to college. I hated it with every ounce of my body. I didn’t have a penny to my name and I stood there looking at the Clarion University sign with tears in my eyes wondering how the F I would ever do it. But I laid in my dorm that night saying I would fight. I would fight tooth and nail for myself to be successful, to be the person no one ever thought I could be, just to prove them all wrong, and to prove to myself that I was worthy of it all.
I look back on those days a lot when I feel like I still don’t have a purpose in life. I remember how far I have come and how much blood sweat and tears it has cost me to be standing here in front of you today. Because you see, girls don’t see the value in their success anymore. We are pulled in so many directions and have so much pressure it’s impossible to ever end up right here where I am.
There were so many dark moments and bad decisions I could have made that would have cost me my life, and trust me, not all of my decisions were good ones, but somehow, somewhere in the pit of my soul I knew I was meant to do more than just sit back and be someone who only “existed.” And this is why I want you all to take a moment to remember just who extraordinary you are, and how you got here too. Every woman has a story, and together those stories can weave a powerful new road for our children to walk upon, just as other women have done before us.
People always want to talk about the amazing and unbelievable things that are happening in the world, myself included. But I think we often forget about all the amazing things are happening right here around us. We don’t look within ourselves or our own communities to see greatness, because we don’t believe that it can happen in front of our eyes – we think we have to go and read some immaculate Pulitzer Prize-worthy article on how people just like us are changing the world. But that’s the thing – people like us ARE changing the world, little pieces at a time within ourselves to be strong, and when we all compile those simple stories together it starts to mean something.
Life has a mentality to want to pull you down, to make you give up, and in this day and age it’s even harder. You have reality tv to watch how other’s live, or social media to see all the vacations and presents and fabulous things everyone else is doing. But before you go and get “Facebook envy” remember that not always what you see is true. And before you judge people, realize they too might be just like you, hiding behind something to make everything feel just a little bit better.
I am asked a lot how I am a strong person and how can they be strong too? Strength isn’t something you can learn, it’s something you experience – usually not in a good way. Luckily, at the age of 33, I can look back and see that I have experienced a lot and have met tons of extraordinary females along the way. It wasn’t always good, and there have been a lot of setbacks, but as I have grown, I’ve seen a few grow and blossom as well, and have met new faces that have taught me a lot. Strength comes from within when the ability to know that you are meant to survive whatever struggle you are facing. Whether it’s as simple as a morning commute with a toddler, graduating college, or dealing with a loss, we women as a whole really can pull it together when we have to.
I could go on an on to tell you about how I’ve overcome so many obstacles, but I think all you need to know is that I am sitting here typing this to you – I am a success story. And so are you. Tell yourself that.
I want to share with you a few stories of women who I know right here, who have taken small leaps and have large impacts on their lives. And hopefully, you’ll share your story too, or see that as women, our lives do matter, and every time you pass a woman on the street, I want you to look at their face and see their story within in.
After becoming a stay-at-home mom almost six years ago, I felt very unsure of my place in my home. I placed a high priority on income and importance being synonymous with one another. Over the years, I tried to find work outside of the home, but I realized my true calling was to be at home with my children. As I started blogging more, I realized my blog offered an outlet for me to not only voice my opinion, but bring in income to my family as well. Being able to work from home and care for my children, while contributing to my family’s finances has given me a huge boost in my self-esteem and self worth.
Read more about Reesa’s journey here.
I once read some kind of statistic that said that when negotiating any kind of deal or contract 89% of men will ask for a better deal, or more money, or just something that gives them “more.” And I read in that same article that 95% of women will not ask for more. So I decided, that I would always always ask for more because what is the worst that could happen? So at my last job when I was given an offer letter it was less than what I was expecting. I sent my response and laid out my case about why I needed a higher salary in order to feel comfortable excepting the position. The result was that my yearly salary was about $12,000 more annually then it would have been had I not asked. Later, when I was laid off, I was offered a very very small severance package. I again sent a rebuttal. I asked for four times more than what they were offering me as a severance. Result? They gave me three times more than they originally offered (even though it wasn’t as much as I asked it was exactly what I wanted). So now, instead of being grumpy about not being offered as much as I want, or excepting jobs that make me feel like I’m not being paid enough, I just always, always ask for more. I will say, that it is possible that I was laid off from my last position because I was earning more than everyone else at my level. But, on the other hand it was a very lucrative 15 months.
Read more about Candice’s journey here.
How I combine work and family is by scheduling blocked time. It allows me to not only work more efficiently, it also allows me to dedicate more time to the people and things that are important to me. And it helps me to prioritize. I wrote a piece on my blog entitled, How I Balance Home Work & Me Time. It talks about how I was drowning in work but with the help of blocked time it allows me to enjoy everything in my life. Working smarter not harder is my motto.
I have so many other women stories to share, and if you want to share you’re story – I encourage you to join our #virtualvillage. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie Barnhart is Author/Founder of Footballfoodandmotherhood.com, New York Editor for Mommy Nearest Magazine, and Founder/Social Media Strategist of SocialmindedMediaGroup.com. Stephanie is also a speaker of best online practices for small business and soloprenurs, as well as an educator to parents on social media monitoring. She has also been seen in the New York Times, PARENTGUIDE News, NY Metro Parent, ABC News, and been a contributing author on various websites.