Tasha’s Take: Being Young, Female & Employed.
While I have only been a full-time professional for about a year, I have definitely been a woman my whole life. I’ve been a woman in gyms, on sports teams, in workshops, business meetings, part-time jobs and in transit. I’ve been a woman in seven different countries and 24 college classrooms. I am very lucky to have a lot of experience behind my 23 years that not many women my age have, and I intend on making the most of it.
I was lucky enough to be raised with the confidence to be who I am. When I was 18 years old I moved abroad, and got to experience being a woman in Europe, in Italy. This taught me that in North America we are very lucky to have as many opportunities as we do, not that Italy is behind us per se, but I found the country still has many old fashioned ways of thinking. For example, you don’t move out of the house until you’ve found a husband, you typically stay at home to take care of the children and having an independent career is much less common.
So upon my return I vowed to never let a single opportunity pass by – may it be creatively, professionally or socially to prove my worth as a woman and to take advantage of our forward moving society. Now to do so effectively is tricky without coming off as too aggressive, so here’s what I’ve personally found works best.
What to do when someone does and or says something that I find demeaning like “Let me carry that box for you little lady” when I’m fully capable of handling it? First, I try to understand their intent, they are most likely just trying to help, but they should also know that I am capable of taking care of myself. So instead of lashing out with a “I can’t carry a box because I’m a woman?” I Instead go for an “actually, I’m just fine carrying this one my own, but I appreciate your offer.” And then pick up three more boxes.
As a young lady in the workforce I have sometimes been spoken down to in meetings. People will always doubt a young person’s knowledge, but especially a young woman. So instead of getting aggressive with a “Why wouldn’t I know that?”, I try explain to them that I am perfectly knowledgeable on the subject while also dropping some sweet knowledge on them to prove them wrong without starting a battle. People learn more in an informative setting than a hostile one.
If you have an opinion, share it. Everyone has a unique and important perspective to any situation and it is always worth being heard. A wise professor once told me that “a quiet designer, will always be, a quiet designer.” So be loud & be proud.
Seize new opportunity. New things can be daunting, a new position at work, a new request from a client or a new topic for discussion with your friends. I will always learn more from trying and failing than not trying at all.
Don’t doubt yourself. In the wise words of Rupaul “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love anybody else?” I am capable of becoming a CEO. I am worthy of that promotion. I can own seven cats. Don’t hold yourself back, unless maybe you’re on your eighth cat.
And lastly, don’t be afraid to be emotional. This is something that women have been labelled as for centuries. We have evolved as the sex that is more comfortable speaking about their feelings, and this is something we shouldn’t take for granted. Taking that range of emotion and putting it into my work will allow it to shine through and stand out. The more I am honest & open with how I feel, the easier it is for those around me to do the same. I don’t hold back, I get happy, angry and sad when something happens that affects me. I value my feelings and honour them with control & compassion.
Being a woman and a feminist in this day and age should be more about education, rather than violence & hostility. There is still much growth to be had in our society, but people are much more willing to listen when you come with understanding and patience. We’ve actually come a long way already and should use this platform to keep everyone wanting to move forward with us.