This year we celebrate the 46th International Women’s Day. ‘A global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’ (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/About). This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge and this is something I commit to because equal rights and female empowerment isn’t just a passion of mine…I believe it is my responsibility.
As a child I was often described as ‘outspoken’. If I saw something unjust or believed was wrong, I would stand up for myself and others…but that label was not a compliment. I was warned against getting involved with things that weren’t my business, I was advised to ‘pick my battles’, I was laughed at (not cruelly that I remember but in an endearing way) and I was called rude. Over time I learned to keep quiet and even to not see the injustice as it happened to me or to others. I made a decision, unconsciously, that my voice wasn’t worth hearing, that I couldn’t change anything, that I wasn’t good enough.
I accepted the boy on the school bus who sexually assaulted me
Through my life this belief – that I am not good enough – impacted all of my behaviours.
- I giggled when old men made really inappropriate comments to me as a 19 year old working in a pub.
- I said ‘Oh I have a boyfriend’ when the guy in the bar wouldn’t back off.
- I accepted, through gritted teeth, the mail addressed to Mr The Manager when running restaurants.
- I accepted the boy on the school bus who sexually assaulted me was ‘just showing off’ and that ‘his mother was devastated’ so he didn’t deserve a punishment.
- I stayed in a job I didn’t enjoy because I wasn’t good enough to start my own business.
Until things changed. Until I learned to think differently. Until I transformed my mindset and I made a new decision. That I AM enough.
Soon, after making this new decision I started my business. I was also 8 weeks pregnant. After a quick Google search (‘Starting a business when pregnant’) I learned that this was a strange thing to want to do. Glimmers of my old limiting belief surfaced…if something is going to be hard, maybe I shouldn’t try? If I am likely to fail, it’s better not to bother right? My dreams don’t matter any more now I am becoming a mother, right? Wrong!
The forthright Lauren was back. Not only was I going to build a successful business while pregnant and beyond, I was also going to write a book about it so that other women would not be hit with the negativity I was.
I chose to challenge the norm, I chose to speak out that my dreams were still valid. The Expecting Entrepreneur was published just before my son’s first birthday in October 2020.
I commit to being part of the change
My story is not uncommon. Women everywhere have learned through years of systemic sexism that they are not good enough, not worthy or deserving of success. Wonderfully, women everywhere are also learning they are enough, their voices are important and that they deserve all the success! I commit to being part of this change by challenging limiting beliefs and the development of new beliefs – how women view themselves, their role in society and their possibilities.
I am, of course, going to do that through my work but also speaking up when I experience sexism, either towards myself or towards others. I am also going to continue this conversation past International Women’s Day and Women’s History month… rallying the troops in continuing to move us forward to a world where equality is the norm.
We are amazing, we are capable, we are worthy… equality (and respect) is the very least we deserve.