The most challenging aspect of any project is actually starting it, I suppose. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but what matters is whether one has the grit to see something through to completion. It’s not an easy task to open up and discuss the challenges I’ve faced in my life, probably in no small part due to the fact that I’m aware that talk is cheap and no one wants to hear about misery and suffering.
However, sometimes one’s own internal assumptions need to be thrown into question, in order to grow as a person.
Family from another country recently visited. I have to admit that even though I’ve worked in several law firms now, I still felt uncomfortable dressed in what I refer to as my “lawyer gear.” This is partially because it’s conservative clothing (the law is still a conservative profession) and also because of my own self doubts. As a WOC from a poorer socioeconomic background, I don’t see many people like me managing to do more than graduate high school, let alone find themselves attempting to enter this field.
It took a teenage cousin’s queries about my school and life experiences, and then afterwards overhearing her say that she was motivated to buck societal demands of settling down early that made me clearly see that part of what made me uncomfortable was I didn’t see myself as a professional. Despite my years of work experience towards this eventual goal of being a lawyer, I didn’t see that it was realistic.
In the back of my mind, I was wondering who I thought I was fooling, trying to be a woman with career goals. Given all the internet’s had to say about why women can’t have it all, I’d started to doubt whether what I was doing was worthwhile. Despite it being close to the 100 year anniversary of women being able to vote in America, it still doesn’t seem like much credence is given to someone that looks like me in this country.
However, this isn’t true globally, as my cousin’s questions were able to show me. In her native country, she’s seen women rise to and hold positions of power, and the women in those roles look enough like her for her to be able to think it’s possible for her. Which makes all the difference: it’s not that she thinks being a professional would be easy, but rather that she thinks it’s possible.
That’s what gets lost in the discussions about whether America is postracial, whether the society we live in is actually a just one. The dialogue is so centered on believing that the present status quo is fine or not, that there’s no real assessment of how things might actually look like if somehow they were changed. Can we fathom a world where women were actually in half of the positions of power in America? It won’t ever be possible if those women lose their faith in themselves along the way.