My mother told me to remember two things once I reach my 20s. One was to act like a woman and the other to dress like a woman.
My mother knew that I have some ‘roaring twenties’ tendencies. My younger version imitated rebellion and nonconformity, mostly breaking traditions, which although she considered as my strengths, could still potentially serve as my weaknesses. For her, being rebellious and nonconformist are best utilized to drive change. But for whatever I deem to change, there will always be resistances. I will be frustrated and disheartened. If I succumb to these instances, I will be in a weakened state. If I overcome them, I will become resilient. She would constantly remind me that in order to ‘act like a woman’ I should be strong enough to pursue what is best for the many, even in a very challenging environment. The key is to be compassionate and caring, at all times.
My mother knew that once I start, it is difficult to stop me (not impossible, just difficult as in the case of stopping me from eating!). It was the case when I decided to start working immediately after I finished my bachelor’s degree. Consequently, my mother – aside from being my usual mentor – also volunteered herself to be my fashion consultant. Since I was excited to move on from the ‘not a girl, not yet a woman’ state, to a grown-up woman, she never missed to remind me to ‘dress like a woman’. She became even more particular with the way I dress up when my professional life propelled (with a lot of turbulence along the way of course). Simply because, to ‘dress like a woman’ has a strong relation to self-empowerment. And, the way you dress can and will be held against you. However, she adds (as if it was an important footnote for an academic paper) not to dismiss the vibrancy of youthfulness in your professional, grown-up woman look—be colorful!
Some famous quotes for a young working woman:
‘I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to be told she has leadership skills’. – Sheryl Sandberg
‘Being a leader can be tough even at the best of times, yet the added pressure that a young leader faces as a result of others equating youth with inexperience can make the experience even harder’ – Abigail Phillips
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