The Young Career Woman
The Young Career Woman
How we can support the growing empowerment of young women
It's hard to hear that even in 2018, women still suffer the brunt of having to prove themselves capable of doing the same job as men, work twice as hard, and still get paid less. Times are slowly changing, but not fast enough. There are more opportunities for young women to shine in various career paths, but the road to getting to a place of solid footing, a role of power is still a winding and challenging journey.
When I work with young women in individual therapy, a frequent theme comes up. Feelings of inadequacy, a sense of being uncomfortable with touting their own accomplishments, and being overly cruel to themselves when they suffer personal, academic, or occupational setbacks. There is no shortage of self-loathing and hurt where these feelings arise, and if you dig deep enough, it is almost always the case that childhood development and learning over the years become part of the conversation. Statements from women such as, “This is how I was raised,” or “My family expected me to always put others first,” and even “I was never enough.” Painful but common.
How do we change the narrative and support the growing empowerment of young women? By sharing our stories in a more open manner. When we show others a window into our lives, we create a more realistic view of what it takes to succeed. This includes failure, lots of trial and error, and a whole lot of sweat, blood, and tears. It takes grit, determination, and passion to get to where you want to go—and hardly is it always perfect. Nobody is perfect, and we should start by showing the other parts of our lives that aren’t so curated. By putting so much effort into hiding our very human flaws, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to connect with others who may be looking up to us for guidance and help.
It takes a community of social support from family, friends, and others to get us through the toughest of times. For those who lack such a support system, it may feel more daunting to go through it all alone. Help-seeking and psychotherapy may be a good place to start to work on oneself. We can all use a shoulder to lean on, and a warm, compassionate person who is willing to listen and provide feedback about what we may be feeling stuck with. And for young women of today, we need to shift the mindset of suffering in silence into one of a more proactive, support-seeking, and self-development stance.
Gandhi once said, “If you want to change the world, start with yourself.”
A good place to start, indeed.