On international women’s day 2020 I want to share this simple message: in an Early Years workforce that is so dominated by women, we must challenge our views on how we see other women and that starts with knowing your own worth and embracing your own power.
It is time to write our own narrative. It is time to understand we have power. The power to let your skills and talents shine, to think, feel and act positively about ourselves. We must also use that power to stop judging and making presumptions of one another and collecting negative evidence about why people don’t like us and treat us in a certain type of way.
The truth is we all wear a mask that mask hides our vulnerabilities and insecurities from the world. That mask allows you to show the best version of yourself to everyone you meet. We never ever truly know what is going on for someone or what they have experienced in their life to shape who they today.
Sometimes that mask may allow someone to look like they’re the life and soul of the party, that they’re happy, funny and gregarious – when really they’re falling apart inside – but this version enables them to feel good about themselves for a while by making others laugh and deflecting attention. It’s comes in other forms too, that woman whose hair is always done just so, their makeup is always immaculate and they are dressed to perfection head to toe, little do we know that this enables them to feel good enough just for a while, as though they fit in and belong. To that women who says yes to everything, who goes out of their way to do things for others, it makes them feel good for a little while, to do things for other people and that enables them to build up their sense of self worth.
Yet without releasing it we reinforce negative gender stereotypes about other women all day long. We judge each other and make presumptions about each other. Without ever realising that what we don’t like about that other woman, is often something we feel insecure or vulnerable about ourselves. We size each other up and then make an unconscious judgment about whether we think they are better than us.
Wrongly once upon a time we were taught to think misconceptions, such as, if someone is too confident – they are too big for their own boots and they need taking down a peg or two! If someone proclaims to be good at something (fancy that!) they are arrogant, stuck up and too clever for their own good! If someone is dressed nicely and well presented, they must have more money than sense, maybe they’re stuck up, full of themselves, think they’re everybody I mean who do they think they are? The person who does too much for others and seems unbelievably nice – must be too good to be true, there is something we don’t trust about them or they are weak and so it goes on.
I am sure we would all agree we may have worked in an environment that was bitchy or toxic at some point on our career. However, I strongly refuse to describe our sector in that way. Instead I think this, chances are if you work in Early Years you are sensitive. Once again, sensitive has been labelled as weak for entire generations. They say sensitive – I say empathetic. Being an empath is a skill and once you know how to use those skills it becomes a super power.
Imagine putting a bunch of sensitive/empathetic women in a building together who didn’t yet know how to use their super powers? No wonder we wear a mask to hide away our insecurities and vulnerabilities! It makes sense that we can judge, misread and take each other the wrong way and then speak and treat each other unkindly.
In our daily jobs we give all our care and attention to children and oftentimes give away extra precious time to unnecessary jobs and things that don’t deserve our attention. When what we really need to do, is give some of that care and attention to each other. We must challenge our views on how we see other women and that starts with knowing your own worth and embracing your own power.
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Professionally embracing your power and coming together as a tribe to share individual skills, strengths and talents takes all kind of people and various different personalities, traits, characteristics and opinions. True not everyone is going to be your type of people but when you have embraced your power you can work alongside one another towards a share vision, respecting and treating each with empathy and kindness.
“Beginning when we are girls, most of us are taught to deflect praise. We apologize for our accomplishments. We try to level the field with our family and friends by downplaying our brilliance. We settle for the passenger’s seat when we long to drive. That’s why so many of us have been willing to hide our light as adults. Instead of being filled with all the passion and purpose that enable us to offer our best to the world, we empty ourselves in an effort to silence our critics. The truth is that the naysayers in your life can never be fully satisfied. Whether you hide or shine, they’ll always feel threatened because they don’t believe they are enough. So stop paying attention to them. Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.”
― Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure