Surprisingly, I did not write for International Women’s Day. Having a blog clearly focused on women growth, this sounds silly. To say the least. A failure even. However, a combination of factors determined this and, authentic to myself, I decided not to force it. Whilst I believe in writing as a habit, I don’t believe in it that badly that I would force it at 11pm for the sake of it. But I knew I wanted to write something to mark this day and this moment in history. About being a woman. Where we are so far from where we have started, and so far from where we need to be.
International Women Day
This is a day that brings mixed feelings. Someone in my network posted the angst that we celebrate women only 1 day a year and then inequality remains the rest of the time. Or that we need this day to remind the world of inequality. However, angst does not take us far. Action does. And that is why this day should be used. To take action. To remind people – male or female – to take action. And each year, to celebrate the advancement that this action gives us, while also reminding everyone that we are not quite there yet.
So I partially joined in the quote sharing, the reminders, the support to other women. I watched what unfolded but, on a Monday, I must admit there is little I can participate in during at least 8 regular weekly meetings. I rather admired from the distance, without much action.
Time for Action
In the evening, as I grabbed my PJs and got ready to start taking action by writing, I was faced with a challenge. My friend and business partner Joana challenged me to join her on an Instagram Live (in portuguese), to launch a celebratory edition of her shoe brand (and my favourite shoe brand), Maray. The person she was doing it with could no longer join, and she was following my advice to do more lives and be more present with her customers. It was 9.10pm. The live was starting at 9.30. What do you do in such a day?
I changed back into my shirt, quickly added some make-up and scribbled questions in a piece of paper. By 9.20 I made her the counter-offer that rather than being interviewed, I would interview her. I wanted her customers to know how amazing she was and what the story was. After all, isn’t that how you take actions, elevating others?
A Live Chat and a Reflection
That moment Monday night encompasses all that being a woman means to me. And whilst I focused the spotlight on Joana, I still reflected on the first question I asked her. What does it mean to you to be a woman?
Caring for others and their needs
What a cliché you may think. Why can’t men care for others? I did not say they can’t. I am not here to talk about men anyway. Or to talk about what others can do. I am talking about one of the things that defines me and that I believe is intrinsically related to being a woman – for me. I am passionate about caring for others. This is not exclusive to my children. I care about my family, my friends, my co-workers. Catia (my therapist) would certainly say that I care perhaps a bit too much. That is true. I also did not say that my definition of being a woman was all amazing. Sometimes care should come with a “self-” behind it too, no doubt. Caring is ultimately something defines me. When sometimes people ask me why, I have only one answer – because I care.
Believe you can
This was my piece of advice at the end of the live. I think it is important for us to continue to believe. To believe that we can pursue opportunities, that we are allowed to take them, and that we will excel at doing them. Believe that there is more to come for women everywhere. Believe was my word of the year for 2020, and it was one that definitely carried me through. I chose to believe in myself, in my family, in our choices and our possibilities. And it was a hard thing to do. Whilst I am surrounded by people that believe in me, I haven’t often been that person openly believing that all is possible. Whilst I don’t suffer from the famous impostor syndrome, I also am not my biggest supporter. So believing was an important pillar to develop.
And not be afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. This is definitely newer territory for me. As I defined my word of the year for 2021, I came to the word fearless. Whilst I wanted to be brave, more importantly was to acknowledge fears and then defeat them. Joana questioned me on what my fears were. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of not living up to expectations. Fear of disappointing myself. The later is the only one I will allow space for. The others, they wake up with me every day, they come and try and sleep in my pillow. But I tell them hi and wave them goodbye. Women have spent centuries living in fear, living from others expectations alone. It is about time we live limitless.
Constantly dealing and adjusting to changes of plans
Once a friend compared my life to a domino. Whilst I did not like it at a time, I recognised there was some truth in it. And as he asked me what would happen if one piece fell down, I felt the weight of it. But it does not bring it all down. Perhaps the pieces are carefully put with just enough distance that they won’t knock each other out, or perhaps I use magic to keep them afloat. Whatever it is, that is what I do. Adjust. At work, at home, with the family, with myself. In general, most things have a solution, especially if we don’t dwell on it for long. Apparently, I am good at figuring things out.
Smile while you do it
I know, this almost breaks my authenticity vow. But I smile because I love each of the crazy things I get involved in, not because I fake it. The first time this last theme, it actually said “making it all look easy”. And then I remembered that would be lying – to others and to myself. When people ask me how I do all the things that I do, I no longer resent them (yes, I used to resent people calling me superwoman). I actually explain to them it is possible with lots of organization, intention and, more importantly, passion. So much of what I do brings me joy. So I smile.
Reasons to Celebrate
Whilst there is always a way to look at the glass half empty of a Women Day, celebrating is still in order. We can celebrate uniqueness and greatness. Because I want to define myself as a woman in a certain way. And you reading there now in another way. In our uniqueness and love for life we find greatness. And we move forward making this world a place for everyone. So we celebrate.