I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years. In fact, I’ve packed up my worldly belongings into battered cardboard boxes and relocated my entire life...
By Rowena Lewis
People who attempt to define success and ambition for women are all around us; one female is praised, another is scorned. We live in a society always ready to decry women in one way or another, no matter which path they take. In fact, certain news outlets even seem to take pleasure in tearing women’s aspirations down and reinforcing stereotypes. This is, of course, when we are not inundated with stories of women “having it all”, without necessarily showing the sacrifices a woman undoubtedly has to make to reach this status. We could be provided with a photo of a female who is a feminist ‘fitspiration’ icon; she is head of her own company, signing a historic business merger where half of the profits go to charity, holding two perfect children next to the ideal partner, has great boobs and all whilst cooking dinner and doing the vacuuming… and we would still receive a detailed analysis of how she could have done better. So my answer to all of this: to hell with it!
I was one of those wearisome children who got a kick when doing the opposite of what was expected of them, and to be honest, I do not believe I’ve grown out of it. A child listed with the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth, I dropped out of my A-Levels when scouted and signed to a modelling agency. I was then married by the relatively tender age of 21 and gained my degree at 25. So, I haven’t always made the right call and, at times, I have failed spectacularly, but any choices were mine and mine alone. To me, my decisions were ambitious and I fought for them. The truth is, no female success story should be deemed greater or more inspirational than another. More so now than at any other time, we are proving that there is no correct order for living your life; so don’t allow yourself to start measuring your success against others and try not to make too many assumptions.
To some extent, we are probably all guilty of judging other women. We criticise those who we consider are not making the most of their lives if they choose to be housewives, or we make women feel guilty for focussing on work deadlines rather than paying attention to their ticking biological clock. You do not need to concern yourself with other women’s lives – they are simply doing what every woman should be allowed to do: taking control and succeeding in their own individual way. Life is tough and can be particularly gruelling as a female battling against cultural and social expectations; the last thing we then need to deal with is being told constantly what is right and wrong by people far detached from our lives. Of course I want to see increased numbers of deserving women smashing it in positions of power without the constant barriers and discrimination, but shaming women for any of their decisions, or attempting to control them, will do nothing but cause more damage. Stop questioning other women’s motives for what they do; all choices should be equally valid.
The future is yours if you take control of it – women have fought and died over many years for you to possess this empowerment! Take ownership of your choices and learn to realise that you will never be able to appease everyone around you (and you should not have to). Say, “to hell with it”; create your own goals to aspire to and don’t be afraid to find your voice in an often confusing and fickle world. In my opinion, if you manage this, then you will have succeeded already.
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