From a young age, my mom instilled in me that is was okay to be different, to choose my own path, to embrace being a woman–whatever that meant to me.
She let me dress in outlandish outfits, set up a wedding ceremony for my five-year-old brother in the front yard, hold entire conversations with myself in voices. She didn’t say it was “unladylike” when I punched the neighbor kid for picking on my brother, she just told me there were better ways to handle things. She never scoffed at the skinned knees or the fact that I’d rather climb trees than wear dresses. She never laughed when I said I wanted to be in the NBA (nope, not the WNBA). She told me to let my light shine and never let anyone dull my edges. She taught me to never hold my tongue in the face of injustice and fight for what I believe is right. She taught me to find the good in all people. She taught me to walk boldly in whichever path I choose. She gave me the courage to stand and taught me that sometimes that means standing alone. She told me I could be anything I wanted to be…and I believed her.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to have a long list of female role models and mentors. Not every young lady gets that, and I know I’m lucky. These women aren’t all dripping with accolades and fancy titles. They’re good, strong, kind women who have paved the way for younger female generations simply by standing tall and believing their worth. They’re teachers, waitresses, lawyers, stay-at-home moms, artists, store clerks. I watched their sparks ignite and blaze beautifully, I saw them embrace being a woman in different, colorful ways. I saw their bravery, and it gave me the strength to dig out my own. They told me I could…and I believed them.
I’m tearing up writing this post thinking about those women and also thinking about the girls who didn’t have that mom or those role models. Who are afraid to shine. If no one’s ever told you that you can be anything, DM me and we’ll get coffee. I will tell you…and hopefully, you’ll believe me.
Happy International Women’s Day.