Over the past three years, I have learned a lot about working as a writer. While studying in England, I had some crazy-inspiring female professors. These inspiring people taught me a lot about myself and the working world. Now I want to share with you the 5 things I have learned as a #girlboss.
1. Own Who You Are
Listen, we all go through phases where we might feel like we don’t know who we are anymore. We are ever-changing and evolving people who gather memories, thoughts, and ideas every day. My advice is to sit down with a journal and write out your values. What are those values in your life that are essential for your contentment? Some of mine are hard work, integrity, loyalty, family, meaningful friendships, and so on. Identify those things that – when you don’t have them in your life – you don’t feel quite like you.
2. Make A Statement and Mean It
One afternoon, as we were nearing the end of our Arts and Entertainment Journalism class, our frustrated professor decided that the class of young women needed a heart-to-heart. Even though the air in the small class room hung with humidity and the temperature was significantly hotter than the English spring time waiting just outside the window, the small professor reached up and flipped the switch of the fan off so we wouldn’t miss a word. We were asked to gather near the front of the room, where she leaned in slightly over the table as if she were going to tell us a secret. Our admiration and respect for the experienced writer and teacher shone in our eager faces. “Now, I am only going to tell you this once and then I want to see you implement this here in this classroom and anytime I awkwardly run into you outside of class.” Her English accent made her sound more intelligent to the international students, we pulled out our notepads so we wouldn’t forget her next phrase. “In this classroom we make declarative statements. Ask questions. Even if you feel the question is the silliest one yet, I want to hear it. The only dumb person is the person who doesn’t ask questions! BUT. In this classroom we do not make statements that sound like we are asking questions. Women have been conditioned to sound unsure, submissive, and accommodating by phrasing their statements like questions. Stop it. You have a voice. You have a brain. You are worthwhile and your ideas are worthy of life! Do not be sorry for having opinions and thoughts. Do not be sorry for sharing them. Say them like you mean them!”
And in that moment, she changed my life. I listen closely to my words as I speak, especially when I am given the chance to voice an opinion or idea that matters. I say it like I mean it and I am not sorry. When we command attention with our tone and use declarative statements, we are owning our voice and respecting ourselves as intellectuals. This principle has changed my work-life and given me the respect that I wanted to establish in my career.
3. Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Who You Are
I grew up in a small town in a conservative state alongside many people who tried to tell me who I was going to be. If you don’t believe me or you think I am just bitter about where I grew up: At 16 I was interested in dermatology and thought I might like to become a dermatologist when I was older. After a visit with my dermatologist and expressing my interest in his field he said, “Don’t you want to be a mom? If you want a family, you should become a master aesthetician like my assistant here.” I left feeling sad because I did want a family but I never wanted to do something half way; if I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to feel like I could be one without giving up the privilege of someday being a mother.
Why am I telling you this? Because I used to believe them. I used to think of myself as a silly girl who was just pretty enough to get a husband and lucky enough that I might get to be a mom. No one ever told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be. There were a few teachers in high school that helped me foster my writing and pushed me to believe in myself. I am so happy that I chose to pursue my passion; yet, I often wonder if my biology professor had believed in me, would I have become a doctor?
The one of the greatest realizations I have come to in this life and on this journey is that we get to choose how our story ends and who we are going to become.
4. Be Teachable
There will always be someone who knows something you don’t or has a better way of doing things, this does not mean you are dumb or unqualified! Being teachable is an admirable trait. Walking into any job thinking that you know better than everyone in your office is asinine and will hurt you in the long run. Ask questions. Research topics. Learn in class and at home. Never stop because there is always something to learn that will help you improve.
5. Be Humble
It’s important to learn how to own your confidence while staying humble. Always be authentic with those who have helped you along your journey. Sprinkle thank you’s everywhere you go, especially if someone (no matter how minimally) goes out of their way to help you. Express your appreciation for the people in your life. Remember how much hardwork and determination it took to get where you are even if that place is small in relation to the large scale of things.
May you learn to appreciate your thoughts and ideas. I hope you work hard toward your goals, that you learn to embrace the journey, and that you have beautiful experiences that will shape you into the person you were destined to be.