There were sneers, kicks in the shins, whistles, you name it. Needless to say, I needed help from women regarding how to navigate all of this. Fortunately, I had been taught to have a thick skin and seek the boys, and men, who were kind. (I found many of them.) I could never have done this had my mother not been such a tough woman.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom but was savvy enough to know the best way for me to handle the challenges. Rather than cave to some of the guys’ bad behaviors, she simply encouraged me to put myself above them and march on.
“If you let the bad ones get to you,” she said, “then you lose. Look above and beyond them.”
She was right and that is exactly how I kept my wits about me and enjoyed what I was doing.
When I wanted to quit, whether I was in college or medical school, my mother never said, “Oh that’s a good idea.” Rather, she told me that I could get through whatever my struggle was because I was tougher than I thought. The truth was, she was tougher than I thought, and it was through following her example of courage, perseverance and humor that I stayed the course.
Another woman who influenced my life tremendously has been my sister. We have very different personalities. She is outgoing and vivacious, and I am an introvert. She is one of the smartest women I have ever known and sees into situations things that I consistently miss. When life seems convoluted, she straightens things out. When I am discouraged about a relationship, work, you name it, she helps me get a completely different outlook on it and makes it possible for me to charge ahead. She has strength I have never had and navigates relationships in ways that I would never believe possible.
In my field of medicine, honestly, there have been very few women who have paved the way for me. There simply weren’t many older physicians who showed me how to practice medicine and have a family too. These are lessons I simply had to learn myself. What I did get, however, were the more important lessons of perseverance from my mother and tough encouragement from my sister, both of which allowed me the strength to move into a field and lifestyle that was completely unknown to me.
Who are these women in your life? The silently strong ones, the ones you can almost take for granted, but when you step back and look at your life, they are the ones at the center cheering you on?
In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share who those women have been for me and encourage you to do the same. Think about the women who have impacted you. Think about where you would be without them and where you have gotten with them. Share this post with them and let them know what they’ve meant to you. Because even though today is International Women’s Day, we need these women in our lives every day.
If you’re a mother of daughters, be sure to check out this post on how to celebrate daughters, even when they’re difficult, on International Women’s Day!