“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem
Inspiring quote, I think. I certainly relate to how she feels about writing. I met her once at a lecture she gave at the University of Washington. I even still have the book, Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem, that she autographed for me.
Her recent milestone birthday got me thinking about her again. I tucked her away with the idealism of my twenties, quietly forgetting how her activism could be applied to all the decades of my life. So, I retraced my steps, pulled out her book, and decided to remind myself why she was so important to me. Her words meant even more now that I am a mother. Her words were impactful in how I will raise my daughters.
Her words will mean something to all our daughters. Her message of independence, happiness, self-esteem, activism, fearlessness, and a comfort in being just you still rings true.
This week’s essay is not only dedicated to Gloria Steinem, but to my daughters growing up in the modern world. I can say with certainty that these quotes don’t even begin to sum up all of Gloria’s contributions, but I do think these particular moments in time were wise words to share again.
So, Ava and Mia, this is for you.
“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” – Gloria Steinem
I want full equality for you. Not just work place equality, but social equality as well. I want you to live in a world where you don’t have the ask questions like, “Is the pay for my work equal to a man’s pay for the same work.” Equality has slowly inched along and there are so many more opportunities available to women today, but there are still glass ceilings. I don’t know if we will ever be free of those kinds of barriers, but I can certainly prepare you to meet those challenges head on.
Ava, your kindergarten teacher says you exhibit strong leadership skills and an aptitude for math. When she described you in class, it sounded like you might be a tad “bossy.” I stepped back and reflected on her comments. I quickly came to the realization that what was construed as “bossy” at the age of six, would develop into future leadership skills with the right coaching and maturity. Your teacher is convinced you will manage your own business someday. And I know you won’t be bossy, but you will be the boss.
“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem
I think that sometimes the dreamers of the world never realize their full potential because they lack the ability to plan out how they are going to get there. Luck can take you only part of the way, the rest comes with dedication and planning. I think this is an important lesson. I want you both to choose your dreams, but you must be ready to work for them. Dreams are only limited by your ability to execute on a plan to achieve success. Don’t be afraid to dream big, but ready for the responsibility that comes along with achieving it.
“Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.” – Gloria Steinem
If you are going to blaze trails, value and nurture a great group of girlfriends. They should love and respect you. They should help build you up, not tear you down. Surround yourself with loving people who support your strength, happiness and growth as a human being.
Seek out amazing mentors. Women whom you admire and are willing to invest time in your development. I have found these relationships to be some of the most rewarding of my career and life.
Love your sister. It won’t always be easy, but in the long run your sister will always be there for you. Encouraging you on. Pushing you forward. You will never be alone if you have the love of your sister.
“So whatever you want to do, just do it…Making a damn fool of yourself is absolutely essential.” – Gloria Steinem
Never give up and try again.
It’s the only way you can learn and grow in a world where people don’t necessarily value failure as a positive step. Be limitless, but focused and smart about the choices you make. The journey to success will be paved with failures that you should learn from. You will be the sum of these experiences. It is these experiences that make you interesting.
“Self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it.” – Gloria Steinem
Love yourself. Accept yourself. It is your uniqueness that makes the world a better place. Magazine cover perfection, it doesn’t exist. Be confident in your own skin, it’s the only one you have!
“If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?” – Gloria Steinem
Don’t ever feel you need to be something you are not. This doesn’t mean you don’t take risks or change, it simply means no one should ever try to change YOU! You are loved exactly as you area. I love everything that makes you…. well, you.
Mia, you are completely confident in who you are. You openly express yourself every day through silly dances and funny thoughts. You are at ease with others and draw them in with your sincere engagements. You compliment complete strangers and they are taken off guard by you. They blush. They smile. You love spotlight and happily bring others into its warmth.
“I have met brave women who are exploring the outer edge of possibility, with no history to guide them and a courage to make themselves vulnerable that I find moving beyond the words to express it.” – Gloria Steinem
Ava continue your artistic journey. You share yourself so freely through both your writing and artwork. I am moved by some of the pieces your create. You are an athlete who loves doing a sports. Whether it’s swimming, karate, or skiing, sports will build your strength and confidence. You are hard on yourself, but I believe this will drive you in your ultimate life success.
Mia run towards your future. You are fearless, funny, and smart. You may only be four, but your personality is so big it could fill a stadium. I have no worries that you will explore the world with great enthusiasm and appreciate all the things life has to offer. Expect the best from yourself, it’s the only way you will be able to tap into your enormous potential.
You both have the opportunity to change the world.
Ava and Mia, I will enjoy walking the road to womanhood with you. I will be there to help pick you up when you fall. I will be there cheering you on when you are wildly successful.
Make your mark on the world and don’t let anyone stop you.
Thank you for the reminder. I needed it.