I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. 2014 is here in a few days, and I do now that this the time when people feel most confident in their ability to make a change in their life for the better. With regard to this, I would say: why not get a head start and begin now? I began reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and I’ve decided that if I were to have any New Year’s Resolution, it would be to begin leaning in. I want to be active, strong, and persistent in all aspects of my life. I want to be the caring friend, the loyal daughter, the devoted lover, and the fiercely interdependent career woman. I am all of these things rolled into one.
Despite the great progress and socioeconomic advancements that women have made just in the past few decades alone, Sheryl Sandberg proves with a combination of hard data and anecdotal evidence that both blatant and subtle sexism is still prevalent. The whole precedent behind Sandberg’s Lean In is that, as women, we are leaning back when we should be leaning in. Sandberg is a relatable figure for both genders given that Lean In is only partially a feminist manifesto since it should inspire men and women alike.
One particular passage stuck out to me,
“In school, I was called the ‘smartest girl’ in the class.’ I hated that description. Who wants to go to prom with the smartest girl in the class?” (Sandberg, p. 42-43)
It’s the age old idea that:
1) Boys will only like you as long as you are pretty.
2) Having the attention and approval of a boy is more worthwhile than being considered smart or successful.
I’ve been there. I still struggle through it. Instead of feeling proud of myself when I go on dates and tell men that I’m working towards being a successful entrepreneur, I feel embarrassed. Then I realize that any man really worth my time should respect me for all aspects of my personality—flaws included. I contain multitudes.
Women face both institutional barriers and internal barriers. We need to tackle these obstacles from both fronts. Believe in yourself. You can be kind while still being strong. To hate another is easy. It takes a strong person to love. Be passionate. Most of all, lean in to your life and either take a seat at the table or take a stand!
From a very early age, girls are susceptible to the leadership ambition gap. The gap is beginning to close from the Millennial generation, but the gap still remains. As women, we need to believe that we are self-confident and willing to take risks. We need to make these internal changes first. Then, we need to be confident enough to take these figurative, sometimes literal, leaps in order to become the leaders and visionaries of the 21st century. We are what we think, and change begins here, today, with you.
Have a Happy New Year!
Let’s do this together.
Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. Print.