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What She Said

Overcoming Shame and Speaking Out

Finding out how to do what I wanted to do. And then do it…

I really struggled with this – especially as a young female who wanted to get in there and rub shoulders with people calling the shots. So many people gave me the message that it ‘wasn’t allowed’. Whether it was through disappointed tones, looks, or downright being looked over. Then add to that a few other life challenges, like becoming a mother, and hey presto, I was starting to think that life was going to swallow me up.

That’s when I realised the power of genuinely not giving a f*ck. I mean, I do about the things I care about. But when it comes to other peoples’ agendas – like not understanding that I don’t have 2 years to build trust with them when I need flexibility for my kid who is starting prep – now. Well….I really only have one thing to say.

And it’s not something that my mother would probably like me to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. Thankfully, in some situations, people point out that you don’t really suit the situation and you can walk away (somewhat gracefully – although robbed of opportunity) but it comes down to something I heard an incredible actress say a while ago (unless she was misquoted – in which case, apologies Helen).

Now, it’s a go to conversation. Something I say to people to gauge whether or not I want to work with them or even breathe the same air as them. I ask, “Have you heard what Helen Mirren says we need to teach young women?”. Given the roles she has played I assume most would think it’s about grace or elegance.

But that is not what Helen said.

She said that we need to teach young women, as one of the first things they learn mind you, that they can say “F*ck off”.

Absolutely! Now this isn’t about being self-righteous. It’s about the fact that some people feel entitled to attempt to emotionally cripple you because of their own insecurities. They feel they deserve your time, energy, thoughts, conversation and for you to affirm them in all of their opinions - even if you don't share their opinions.

It wasn’t until I learned this that I knew I could. I mean, I thought “F*ck off” was for angry sorts of women. But, if Helen could, then so could I (yes, I admit I must have been bound by social convention).

I practiced my “Helen Conversation” with people. Just as an example of what women “ought” to be able to do; what we see men do with each other in the most carefree way in a variety of situations. And I LOVED it. I realised, I too could.

I worked out that there are reasons why some people make me angry. And it’s usually because their values are vastly out of alignment with mine. And that means something. It means I know what I want. And what I don’t want. And I am allowed to have a voice about that.

And so, to any haters out there. To people who don’t believe in dreams, or personal freedom, or that the emotional needs of our kids shouldn’t occasionally come first, I declare boldly, "What she said".

And for that, I will never be ashamed.

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