Stop worrying about what others are thinking of you, because they’re not. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves.
Lately, I’ve become fatigued by the same cliché narratives everywhere about women in the modern world. Especially as I’ve just finished working on an engineering project with a mixed gender team and I know we never once stopped to second-guess ourselves because of gender. We were just doing our thing. Another goal achieved in our mission to reduce wasteful spending in the medical industry. We worked on a team with smart people of both genders, who had great values. This was how it should be. (By the way, come work with me!)
Yet I still see stories expanding beyond the original TEDTalk on the effect of body language, ruminating over how women should be “faking it until we’re making it” and listing all the different reasons why we should stop saying apologizing for ourselves. These articles, while honest, are so prevalent that they make it sound as if modern women everywhere are just suffering from a continuous lack of confidence while operating in a constant state of overcompensation. But I know it’s not true because these issues are not just for women. They are present for everyone at different points of our lives, especially when we’re trying to grow.
Yes, these courageous and honest voices played a big part in helping us let our guards down in order to trust one another. And I know the intent of these stories is to encourage people — namely women — to trust themselves. But we are not in a police state, we have the chance for higher education and we have most of our basic rights. We’ve done a fantastic job shedding many inequalities to light, and describing this uneven playing field. And I’m tiring of some of the emerging dialogue that seem to be using this chip in our shoulder as a crutch for a lack of confidence. When are we going to stop giving ourselves excuses for acting insecure? When are we going to start saying, “Oh yeah? Just look at me now!”? Why are we looking for inspiration from a narrative that relies on pointing out what we’re doing wrong? I really think we need to highlight some of the things we’ve always done right and stop apologizing for saying sorry.
For example, there are more women in male-dominated fields such as STEM than ever was in the past! Let’s keep going! And what about having more men in female-dominated fields? What’s stopping them there eh? Just as the men in the field are getting used to women, the women are getting used to men. The rules are changing, and if they’re not… let’s start trying new ones.
First let’s start to believe that we’re not just faking it.
Because we are not phonies. We are real and we ARE making it.
And we’re always going to look foolish trying to do better than we were before.
It’s just like learning how to bike.
It’s hard to step outside of your comfort zone.
So don’t let looking foolish hold you back! Stop worrying what others think about you, because they’re not. Everyone is too busy worrying about themselves. Stop making excuses for yourself, because you know better. Deep down you’re just exhausted and afraid, but you know you need to do what you gotta do. And stop the humble brag. It’s up to you to get off your bum and just do what you want to do.
There will always be more than 30 under 30.
There will always be more than 40 under 40.
For men and women both.
And the ones giving the prizes are just as great as the ones receiving them.
And I agree that no one should feel the need to apologize for ourselves unnecessarily, especially when he or she has done nothing wrong. But it’s quite okay to say “Sorry” if one really means it! Also, why aren’t we asking people to say and sincerely mean “Sorry” MORE of the time? Great courage and integrity is involved in issuing a sincere apology – you have to be able to put down your pride for a moment in order to demonstrate your empathy, admit fault and express your willingness to improve. And for the receiver of an apology, he or she has the responsibility to exhibit the wisdom and maturity needed to avoid taking advantage of the apology to achieve greater status or power at the cost of trust. A successful exchange from both parties is what creates trust and therefore progress. And we’re so bad at it. We let our insecurities take control most of the time.
So we end up playing this stupid game with each other, acting all grand because we’re faking it so hard. Apply that to people, families, countries across history…and you’ll see we still haven’t changed much.
So tell me, ladies and gentlemen, what do we do now? How can we start redefining the rules of trust? What is our endgame? What do we want to do?
Me? I want to be free to be myself.
And with this poem, I want you to know that I have been doing exactly that.
Recite it with me!
Modern Woman Mantra
I do what I want, I do what I want.
I want if I want. I need if I want.
I dance if I want, I code if I want.
I smile if I want, I cry if I want.
I agree if I want, I refuse if I want.
I dress up if I want, dress plain if I want
I say what, when and how that I want.
softly if I want, with passion if I want.
I repeat if I want, I repeat if I want.
I’m wise if I want, I’m kind if I want.
I apologize if I want, and thank if I want.
I vote if I want or don’t vote if I want.
I work if I want, I stay home if I want.
I ask, answer or keep quiet if I want.
So tell me what I want, judge me if you want.
Because I do what I want, I do what I want.
A lady or girl or woman if I want.
– by Yin Mei
P.S. My intent of this blog is simply to add another voice. I believe that every story is important, and every voice has a role.
Just because something doesn’t seem to be making a difference for you, doesn’t mean it’s not making a difference for someone else.