Updated: Aug 19, 2020
It's taken me 7 long years to actually live my dream. I've always wanted to write -- I never thought I was a good writer until I finished graduate school and realized I was smart.
For most of my 20's I've dreamed of writing a book or sharing my stories, experiences, etc...but have made many excuses that prevented me from putting anything in place.
What if people don't like what I have to say?
I have so many things to do, I don't have time for this.
Other things are more important right now.
What if I'm actually a really bad writer?
Other people have these ideas, they aren't new or unique.
These types of questions and thoughts constantly plagued my brain until one day, I decided to break free from the negative thought patterns and start to write... even it if sucks and it fails.
I feel like many women share a similar experience -- we, as a whole, often have great ideas and a much larger purpose but sometimes don't actually live it out. But why?
Today, I want to address several things (from my own experiences) that keep women from flourishing in their purpose.
1. We're terrified of failure... and that we only have one chance to get it right.
I had to do a faculty development training for Ph. D's and other professors who'd been teaching at the college level for long time. I remember creating the presentation and putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect and say the most perfect and insightful things. I felt like I only had one shot to get it right.
Women avoid failure although taking risks is an important feature of living our dreams. We believe we only have one chance... and if we mess that up, that must mean we (as a human) are a failure, too.
The fear of failure harms us because we take failure personally and make it a part of our character (if our ideas fail, we are also failures). This is a MAJOR barrier to reaching our goals.
2. We resist vulnerability because we think it makes us seem less independent (to the outside world).
I've shared my feelings before at work, at home, etc... and I've been called "dramatic", "hysterical" and "too emotional." I'm sure many of you have been called the same things or shared a similar experience.
We've been conditioned to believe that are emotions make us weak and less independent, but really they inform us of our innermost thoughts, needs, and wants. Being able to connect with our own vulnerability will allow us to be in tune with our bigger desires and goals. Being disconnected from vulnerability keeps us living someone else's dreams.
3. We're accustomed (and usually taught) to put everyone else before ourselves.
I like to serve people. I like to take care of people. There is nothing inherently wrong with either of these things -- in fact, I enjoy the nurturing part of womanhood.
These two things become a problem whenever there is no boundary on either and we begin to absorb everyone's thoughts, feelings and desires so much so that we neglect our own. By putting other people in our lives first 100% of the time, we may not get our own needs met and we may not be able to live our own dreams.
4. We experience roadblocks that exist in the infrastructures we have to live in.
There are real-life roadblocks for women in the major infrastructures that run our day-to-day lives. In fact, there are additional roadblocks for Black and Latina women, making it even more difficult for them to live their dreams.
Let me share with you a few facts about the wage gap, one of the roadblocks women face.
In 2018, the National Partnership for Women and Families reported that Black women earn $0.63 for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men who have the same qualifications.
In every single state, there is a minimum of a $15,000 yearly salary disparity between Black women and white, non-Hispanic men.
Similar statistics are shown for Latina women, too. Holter (2018) reports Latina women are paid 47% less than white men and 30% less than white women.
The AAUW reports that on average, all women are paid between 78%-82% of what men make every year.
The truth is about it is, there are real-life barriers for women and we must acknowledge them. The pay gap is just one component; there are additional limits found in racial bias, cultural bias (the expectations put on women and their roles)... we could go on and on. All of these items keep women from becoming who they want to be.
5. We don't think we deserve to live our dreams.
I've worked in higher education for a long time -- in several cases, I've come up with great solutions or built processes that improved the workplace. I remember thinking, "I don't need recognition for this because anyone could come up with this solution." This seems humble, but I think it was a little bit of false humility because the fact of the matter is, my brain works in a specific way (just how your brain has unique gifts) and my solution was worthy of recognition... and I was deserving. And it WAS NOT wrong to believe that about myself.
Worthiness is a cultural problem that impacts women. I know that worthiness is not limited to gender and not all women face the same concerns with value and belonging. However, this is a valid reason as to why women get stuck not living their dreams. We can sometimes have this underlying sense that we're not worthy despite how uniquely we're created.
Women: you're fire and deserve to live your dreams. Your passion, gifts and abilities are worthy of investment. Today take one step towards the life you want and start by learning about your core values.
Oh yeah... HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!
LOVE YOU, MEAN IT