I’ll be honest, I’ve never called myself a feminist.
I love being a woman, I love being feminine and I am very much in tune with all the cliche and stereotypical parts of being a woman like my emotions, sensitivity, my nurturing side, the parts of me that seek and so easily empathize with others, the list goes on in the “female” qualities that easily flow out of me.
I’ve never quite been the in your face fight for your rights type of person. Not to be confused with not caring or being proactive about our rights, that I do and am. It’s not that I disagree, my personality is just different. There’s a certain way I naturally contribute to the encouragement and empowerment of my fellow women and that’s ok, that’s who I am and I use my strengths to do so.
There are also two women that possess different characteristics that I admire beyond words and strive to learn from them every day as I get older, my mother and sister.
If I had to choose one thing that intrigues my mind and peaks my curiosity, it would be how different one person is from another. Things that are naturally embedded in me do not so easily reside in my mom. The same way my sister naturally demonstrates qualities that I have to fight for within myself. It’s amazing how unique we are but the presence of both of them in my life have taught me the following:
01. I AM MORE THAN MY CIRCUMSTANCES
No matter who, what, when, how or why – I am more. I am more than my situations, I am more than my current status, I am more than my regrets and I am more than past. Both my mother and my sister have proved time and yet again that though you don’t always choose your circumstance, you can always choose to rise up and out of them.
02. BE ASSERTIVE
Even though I tend to project a natural outward confidence, assertiveness never came easily for me. Being sentimental and sensitive I tend to take peoples feelings before my own resulting in not wanting to assert my opinions or stance in fear of hurting others. Not very healthy when it isn’t balanced out. My mother and sister have always possessed an assertive attitude that has brought them far in life and career. Demanding respect and showing they mean what they say and are out to achieve. The older I get the more I reach further inside of myself to tap into this in my life towards my goals and aspirations.
03. RESILIENCE RUNS IN MY BLOOD
When I tell you nothing or no one has ever had the power to bring either of these women down, I’m not exaggerating or joking. At least in the 29 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen it been done. Many trials and tribulations have arose throughout their life and having the capacity to recover quickly and gracefully from those difficulties has never been an issue for them. It runs in our blood and I’m forever grateful to be able to see it and learn from it.
04. TOUGHEN UP!
I’m not your toughest person around. Though my outer shell may seem stern, I’m sensitive and feel everything. I’m known as the overly emotional one in the family, which I’ve learned to not only accept but embrace. However, I owe it to my sister and mother for all the times I’ve felt defeated but knew everything would be just fine, if not better. Due to them always choosing to stay up when many would be let down, I’ve been able to grow and discern situations that don’t frighten me anymore.
05. NOT EVERYONE DESERVES MY TEARS
If I had a dollar for every time my mom said “Save your tears for when I die” or my sister told me “Quit being a cry baby! Don’t let anyone hurt you!” I wouldn’t even be writing this you guys, I’d be rich somewhere far on my own island. Yes, I cry. I feel things deeply and that’s ok but through the years these words (as much as my sister and mom may not know) resound in my mind every time I face a hardship or heartache. Is this even worth my pain or tears? What can I learn from this and keep it moving? I’ve learned not everyone deserves my energy.
06. DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONAL
Being the sensitive soul that I am, I tend to confide in my mom a lot now when I get hurt. At first I act super hard then I finally let my guard down and open up to her. She always has and will tell me, “Pila, don’t take things to heart so much, don’t let things bother you so easily.” It’s been a process but seeing her and my sister navigate through so much in life without taking things personal opens up my eyes into how much easier and stress free life can be when you’re not always worried about that. Let people do and say as they please and keep it moving.
07. I CAN ATTAIN ANYTHING I WANT
Watching my sister rise up from so many different obstacles life has thrown at her I always stand in awe. No so much from what she’s gone through but how she’s handled it. Being a single mom for so many years always providing the best for my nephew, no matter what she was facing he never lacked. Years later she’s continued to make sacrifices and hard work seem like a stroll through life being a successful business owner that’s not stopping any time soon. She has taught me to go after my dreams and passions not giving a care what others think and definitely convincing me that if I really want it, I can attain it.
08. I CAN SURVIVE ANYTHING LIFE THROWS AT ME
Both of these women have survived situations where most would throw in the towel or wave the white flag, yet they persevered. From divorce to loss, heartaches to starting their life here from a different country – I’ve learned I can survive anything. Not only survive it but allow it to teach me something each time if I allow it to.
09. I DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW SOCIETY’S RULES
Funny how society has a way of making you want to conform to something you may not even truly want. Situations that may not be the best thing for you. All to make it seem like you have your life together and project a false sense of happiness. My mother and sister never followed society or what would look good to others. Each of them have always followed their heart and chose the things they knew they wanted. My mom has taught me the value of money and not having to feel like I need to keep up with the Joneses. I coupon and save because of her and though it took me a while, she’s instilled the true value of money within me. Getting out of debt and always bargaining for a deal. Not to be cheap but to be wise and not owe anyone or slave my life away to keep up a persona. My sister has taught me that school isn’t for everyone and you can build a business doing what you’re good at if you just put in the hard work and dedication.
Last but not least, these ladies have taught me the beauty and grace in independence. Not the kind where you push everyone away because you don’t want to ask for help. Nor the kind where you feel like you’re above everyone else. No, they have taught me the beauty of knowing everything I need to survive life is already within me. Independence that allows me to take care of myself while giving to others. Knowing I will never find myself stranded in co-dependency because they have taught me that I owe it to myself to work hard and take care of me.
So though I was born very different than my sister and mother, I am forever grateful for the countless lessons and traits they instill in me everyday.
Happy National Women’s Day to the two most important women in my life!