What I Can Take Away From This Semester

What I’m taking away from this semester is that I have to stop being afraid of being the leader.

I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In this summer and it was definitely eye-opening. One of the things that hit me the hardest was the revelation that if girls try to lead, they are called bossy, but if boys try to lead, they are just being leaders and should be encouraged. This is taught to us from a young age. I remember that I was the bossy one back when I was younger, and I used to feel embarrassed about it. Now I think to myself, would a boy doing the same things I’m doing be called “bossy”? The answer is almost always no.

I brought this outlook to my work this semester, telling myself that I would not be afraid to speak up or share an opinion if I thought I was right. It has made me feel good about myself, because I’ve started to have confidence in my ability to lead. However, it has also been hard. I know that the judgement from others is there when I speak up. I’m right back where I was when I was little: the “bossy” girl who always tells other people what to do and always has so many opinions. Now that we’re not kids anymore the new term for the bossy girl is “bitch”. I have heard this term used to describe women who speak up. Powerful women in the government, especially Hilary Clinton, have to deal with that all the time. So, despite the fact that no one has said so to my face, I can only imagine that my outspoken opinions are not necessarily welcome in society.

What I am taking away from this semester is that I am going to continue to speak up. I am going to be respectful at all times, but if I have something to say that I think is worth hearing, I’m going to say it. I’m going to be a leader. Even when I can feel the judgement falling on me for being the “bossy” girl, I am not going to give in. My message to all women would be to take a cue from Hilary Clinton. Hear the criticism and the judgement, and ignore it.

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

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