One Week, Three Feminist Moments

1. Yesterday, while shopping, I kept hearing the refrains. "I've just gained so much weight," one woman saying to another. "No you haven't! You look great," was the response. Again and again in multiple variations, women young and old. I wanted to find the Nordstrom Rack speakers and yell:

"Do you think men walk around talking about how fat they are?" 

But, at the same time, in the dressing room, while alone, I looked at myself and said, "Look at your thighs/How did you let yourself get this way/So much for all the exercise you've been talking about." 

I tried to turn around the self-talk. "You're not in this world to have great thighs, lady. Or for anything about the way you look." I bought a pair of hand studded leather boots and a floor length pink chiffon dress, which I might just wear together. 

***

2. On Thursday, I spoke at a leadership conference. I was invited not because of my thighs but because of my knowledge. (Well, and also because a young woman recommended me for it. Thanks sister.)

The topic was networking, and I spoke to the digital side of things. A woman stood up and said, "I'm a psychologist and work with a lot of women who struggle with the imposter syndrome. They are afraid to reach out to to women like you to ask for career advice. What would you say to that?"

Here I was, on a stage with a microphone and a full room of people, nodding vigorously. One of my fellow panelists, an extraordinarily accomplished woman, said we all deal with imposter syndrome. 

Leaving that room, I was fired up, every muscle in my body reacting, my brain resonating with my own path from insecurity to real confidence. Some days I ride that roller coaster throughout the day. I remind myself that yes, you are an accomplished woman, and know what the hell you're taking about. 

When I mentioned this on Facebook, a colleague shared this great piece from Harvard Business School Professor Ann Cuddy in which she writes about overcoming the imposter syndrome. Her book is called "Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges." 

If it's this tough for me, a woman with nearly 40 years of life experience, how tough it must be for women just starting out in their careers. We have a long way to go. 

***

3. One woman I admire greatly is my friend Phoenix Perry. Phoenix is a genius, a game developer, founder of the Code Liberation Foundation, and a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London where she teaches physical computing. Her post, "Academia as Feminist Developer," was the first thing I read this week. It is brilliant, and set the tone for the first week of Women's History Month. 

Phoenix and I have very different careers, but met at a conference about storytelling and resilience. She tells stories, in part, through games. I tell stories another way. But these lines, these lines -- our paths intersect:

"What I am facing is people really want change but they might be afraid to hand the reins over to a powerful, punk rock 40 something genX (American) woman who looks them in the yes and says, 'Trust me on this one. I know what I'm doing." 

Yes, yes, 100 times yes. 

***

Trust me, I know what I'm doing. Let this be our personal refrain, to ourselves and to others. And when we don't, trust that there's a community of fellow badass women (and men) to guide you. 

 

 

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