My two oldest are both boys. After nine years of mud-caked
clothes and bugs, I felt I had a pretty good handle on that side of the house. Three
years ago, things changed for me with the arrival of a third child–my first
This new little human with big brown eyes stared into my soul and triggered a self-reflection that illuminated some very real truths about myself–something I had never experienced with the boys. Heavy feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness rushed to the surface from their compartmentalized place and demanded I give them the attention I had been denying them. Of course, I knew these feelings existed in me, but I didn’t know how strong they were until I was given the job of protecting and guiding this little girl in a world that I knew could be so unjust to her.
Recognizing that I owed it to my daughter (and to myself) to
become the strong role model she deserved, I embarked on an emotional journey
that, in many ways, culminated with the women’s panel we recorded earlier this
year at Legal Week.
I, like many of the women reading this, have experienced years,
if not decades, of inequality in the workplace. We’ve endured the subtle (and
not-so-subtle) reminders along the way that women should remain in our place,
and that our place was always below that of our male peers. A lifetime of
experiences like these add up and take a toll on a person’s psyche. They build
a foundation of self-doubt that can be seemingly impossible to tear back down,
after decades of being reinforced daily. I’ve come to understand that feeling
as if we’re “not doing enough” is almost universal among women. Even more importantly,
we often feel like no matter what we do, we will never be able to measure up.
Now, three years later, my daughter is entering preschool and I
can see the progress we’ve both made. I’m a stronger, more confident woman, and
I feel a sense of self-assurance that was missing before I was gifted this
little girl to care for. I’ve found a passion for where I am professionally,
which gives me the bravery to forge a path to stand on. I am the example and
role model that my daughter deserves. I’m also proud because I earned this role;
I fought for it and still do. By refusing to let others define me or make me
feel unworthy, I know my daughter sees the person I am today. I hope that she holds
onto her fighting spirit so that she may never feel diminished by the same feelings
of self-doubt that I had.
The truth is, we will continue to face challenges going forward. The subtle and not-so-subtle moves will still be made. We will continue to be undervalued–personally and professionally–by men and women alike. It’s critical that in those moments, we’re prepared to meet the challenges: to be our own champion and speak from a place of confidence, not just in support of ourselves, but for our friends, our family, and our fellow women in the workforce. I know that this post and this video panel may be “too personal” for some, but I hope everyone understands that by being vulnerable with each other, we are supporting each and every person, women or otherwise, in their own journey to knowing and defining their value.