Being a woman who takes my life and career goals seriously, I spend a great deal of time thinking about how best to go about achieving those goals and to figuring out what’s standing in my way. All of us face obstacles in life, but research and experience suggests that women in particular have a unique set of problems or barriers that we need to address.
Yes, I’m heading down the path of feminism – but I’m not coming from the typical angle that you’d expect. Sure, the impact that blatant sexism and gender inequality has had on women for hundreds of years is a problem that we’re all aware of. It’s being spoken about more and more, and our modern society is taking steps to create a more equal world to negate the impact and affect change.
But what no one ever speaks about is the internal damage that women carry with them as a result of so many decades of inferiority. A child that is bullied and told that they’re no good will carry those words as scars with them for a long time after, and their self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence often takes a knock that can be difficult to rise above. The same is true for women. For hundreds of years, women have been bullied into believing that they are inferior, unworthy, weak, not as smart as men, bad drivers, annoying, nagging, petty, irrelevant. Can you imagine the long-term impact this has had?
A while ago a dear friend of mine introduced me to a book she was reading called Playing Big by Tara Mohr. Just like The Goddess Bootcamp by Kagiso Msimango, this is another book that I’ll recommend to all women who are looking to improve themselves and their lives.
Playing Big is essentially a step-by-step programme to help women to realise their worth and go after more in life. Books in this genre are often seen as taboo, but I can’t tell you enough about how uplifting and revolutionary they’ve been in my life. Just do it. Go and get yourself a copy. Why? – Because in the opening pages, Tara completely hits the nail on the head with this excerpt:
“Centuries of women’s exclusion from political, public, and professional life have had many effects. Some of those effects were external: legislation, formal policies, pay disparities, lack of legal protections, and the denial of women’s basic rights. But inequality of men and women has also left internal effects in us. Over generations, it shaped how we think of ourselves and what we see as possible for our lives and work. It shaped our fears – fears of speaking up, of rocking the boat, of displeasing others. It caused women to develop a number of behaviors that enabled them to survive in environments where they had no legal, financial, or political power – behaviors like conflict avoidance, self-censoring, people-pleasing, tentative speech and action.
While we’ve done a great deal of work collectively, especially over the past forty years, to remove the external barriers to women’s empowerment, we have not taken the same close look at the internal legacy of inequality and how to change it. We have a lot of inner unlearning and relearning to do.” ~ Playing Big, Tara Mohr
Doesn’t that resonate with you, as a woman? Or if you’re a male reading this, can you empathise with it? When reading the first couple of pages in the book I had several ‘ah ha!’ moments because she speaks so much sense and truth. I know that it certainly hits home for me. I have spent the greater part of my life plagued with self doubt and anxiety that has inhibited me from achieving so much. The age old ‘I’m not a good enough writer to have a successful blog. I’m not a good enough baker. I don’t have enough experience to make an impact in the workplace. I’m not smart enough to pursue my goals. My ideas aren’t good enough to be voiced.’ The time has come to be rid of these kinds of thoughts.
I’m so looking forward to working my way through the exercises in the book (I’ve restarted the book three times because I want it all to sink in) and to letting you know how it goes.
I’m writing this blog post in the hopes that other women will have the same kind of awakening that I’ve had, and become hungry for more in their lives. Maybe you don’t feel like you’ve been oppressed as a female, or maybe you do. Either way, no harm can come from a desire to realise the brilliant human being that you are and going after what you want (and deserve) in life.