I Am Not Burdened by Someone Else’s Judgments

There is immense power in learning to listen and understand. It’s how we create connections and a sense of community, moving beyond tolerance to appreciation for one another and the unique experiences we each come from and can offer to another. By taking the time to listen and understand we can do so much more with and for one another.

I support and champion work that models what I try to exemplify in my every day. Having served on an advisory committee for Gender By US, I experienced the power of educating champions for gender equity on the impact of policy change, and why creating this change is vital for all women. I know that creating individual sparks matters, because they can start a wildfire. Each of us can inspire change by creating moments and supporting each other.

I recognize that my seat at the table represents so many different people and voices. I work to advocate and amplify each voice that needs to be heard. To make the most of these opportunities at the table, first I must take time to listen and understand before sitting down, and then create spaces for understanding and awareness while seated.    

I think the majority of women recognize that now is our time, and yesterday does not and will not hold us back. We’ve looked at our past experiences and we understand them. That knowledge allows us to break down stereotypes, push aside judgments, and live to our full potential.

As a little girl, I was told I was loud. I learned to appreciate what it means to be loud, what it means to be heard, and how to be heard. Knowing myself meant understanding that the childhood taunts about how I was a “tomboy” really spoke to my passion and talent at sports, and that instead of being deterred by a name, I needed to celebrate my passion.

Now is our time to turn our labels into our strengths. To be loud. To be aggressive. To be emotional. To be strong. To do that, we need to know ourselves, have self-confidence, and equip ourselves with the right allies—ones who mentor and sponsor us.

Different is now one of my favorite words to describe myself, because I am unique, special, and I embrace and share with others how they are different. And that is a great thing.