The women’s table

  1. Reclaiming a balanced life. It takes courage to set boundaries and to recognize desires in the public and private spheres as they shift over life stages. Recognizing what is in our control and expressing what we value — especially in positions where our actions can have a domino effect on how others express their needs — opens up time and space for diverse interests and to grow in real compassion for supporting others. We can’t pour from an empty cup, and feeling the pressure to give to any one aspect of life without clear outlets (career included) builds fatigue and tunnel vision that impedes relationships and stunts growth, no matter how honorable the intent.
  2. Forging friendships at work. For years, the prevailing wisdom was that in order to be successful, women had to “go it alone.” I’ve seen many women in my career hold on so tightly to the pride they carry from their solitary path to leadership that they approach female support with trepidation at best, sabotage at worst. While this tendency has lost some of its grip in today’s workforce, the implications can be far reaching. Find your people. Give them post-it notes of encouragement. Vouch for their promotions. Advocate loudly for their best interests. Understand their dispositions and ways of working so that female voices don’t require uniformity to be credible. And never forget the power of their presence.
  3. Leading with heart. The best way we can dispel myths about women’s contributions is by using perceived weakness as strength. Leading with heart is catching on. It requires emotional intelligence. If difference is what sets us apart, it also is a model for change. We can begin by embracing the things that we may have been repressing for too long, in order to be taken seriously. Empathy — the expression of heart — tops that list.
  4. Encouraging inquisitivity. Get curious about the world, and don’t apologize for it! Women have been trained to view meekness as virtuous. Embracing a curious heart is cute as children, narrowed into safe channels in adolescence and often vilified in adulthood — for both women and men — if going so far as to question norms, authority or the status quo. It’s no surprise curiosity gets shut down or worn down quickly in adulthood, particularly for women in male-dominated fields. Curiosity can be fetishized, even — that woman knows a thing or two, if you know what I mean. The quality gets assigned different meaning depending on how it is cultivated and expressed, in many ways more threatening when coming from a woman who knows the value of her mind. If curiosity killed the cat, the cat must have been a female — or that same cat would be sitting pretty on a velvet pillow, with some milk and a lifetime supply of tuna. Curiosity doesn’t have to be cute, or calculated, or anything other than the self-gratifying pursuit of interest and stimulation — creating interesting, multifaceted individuals as a result.
  5. Giving a damn. There’s no excuse for apathy or for blissful, willful ignorance in today’s day and age. Women cannot absolve ourselves from the issues of the world in favor for something more comfortable or pleasant. We owe it to ourselves and to one another to be invested in the world, its issues and key players. Women have fought to be in the arena; now that we are, we have to fight to stay there. Fight with heart, with conviction, and with flair — rather than out to prove ourselves — but we must also fight the tendency to romanticize “simpler times”…or we risk losing our footing in the present.

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Marissa Fellows

Marissa Fellows

Civically engaged. Community curator. Hopeless romantic and hard-fought optimist. Food & feminism. Art reflects life. Recovering workaholic. Feel all the feels.