*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.
Q and A with Jessica, Hunterdon County, New Jersey
“I remember flipping through a magazine one day (out of boredom), and I came across an article about hiking. And the editor decided to highlight “Legs strong enough to hike all the way to the top.” This statement resonated with me, because I started hiking with my friends around that time. On day 1, day 2, day 3…and okay let’s say up to day 30, I felt pretty weak. But every time we went, I was a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, and I was not running out of breath. I could see and feel the progress I made. So, I was not the best I could be on day 1, but to keep up with my friends, I had to keep going even when I was tired. I had to eliminate the mental barrier that said, “I can’t do it today, so I shouldn’t even try.” If you have a goal in mind, keep going, because you might be surprised by what you can do.”
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: There are two ways I can answer this question- professionally and personally.
Professionally, it is marketing. I was really lucky to have found this passion at the age of 18. At the time, I was working at American Eagle Outfitters and taking two AP classes I enjoyed- drawing and psychology. I loved my job at American Eagle, but I was not a pushy sales-woman. I like getting creative, but I was not an artist. I found human behavior to be fascinating, but I wasn’t the next psychologist. Marketing was a combination of various things that already interested me.
And personally, my passion has become traveling. I have been able to visit some exciting places including Sri Lanka, India, and the UK. The best part about traveling is remaining quiet behind a camera and snapping a photo of the architecture and people. Recently, I was getting lost in London. Exploring is a liberating feeling. I’m either alone with my thoughts and camera or meeting someone new.
Next on my list is Greece!
Q: What were your younger years like?
A: I was somewhat quiet; I didn’t come out of my shell until I was about 16-17. I hated large group gatherings, being on a team, class projects – you name it, and I felt uncomfortable. In school, I’d rather zone out or people watch. I hope my former classmates didn’t think I was a creep for staring.
Overtime, I became an extroverted person. I have no doubt that there is correlation between finding my passion(s) and finding my confidence. When I finally found something that I was both good at and had fun doing, I wanted to talk to other people. I wanted to reach out and connect with the people who enjoyed the same things.
Side note: I don’t stare as much. I now read about industry trends and user behavior. Unless I am a tourist behind a camera.
Q:What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?
A: You are stronger than you think you are.
I am not only talking about physical strength.
I remember flipping through a magazine one day (out of boredom), and I came across an article about hiking. If you don’t live under a rock, typically a strong statement will be enlarged and bolded. And the editor decided to highlight “legs strong enough to hike all the way to the top.”
This statement resonated with me, because I started hiking with my friends around that time. On day 1, day 2, day 3…and okay let’s say up to day 30, I felt pretty weak. But every time we went, I was a little bit stronger, a little bit faster, and I was not running out of breath.
I could see and feel the progress I made.
So, I was not the best I could be on day 1, but to keep up with my friends, I had to keep going even when I was tired. I had to eliminate the mental barrier that said, “I can’t do it today, so I shouldn’t even try.”
If you have a goal in mind, keep going, because you might be surprised by what you can do.
Almost ten years ago, I tore out that statement and put in a book. It’s still on my desk.
Q: What would you like others to learn from your story?
A: Do not be afraid to make decisions to improve your life, and do not be afraid to seek help.
Over an extended period of time, I experienced one unfortunate event after another. Even when things were going well, I sometimes wondered if I will, metaphorically speaking, fall…again. I did not surround myself with the right people that could fully understand what I was going through and support me. Unfortunately, this caused me to battle with depression.
I decided to go to counseling and remained in it for about 3 to 4 years.
I noticed there was a common theme during my sessions. I need to navigate through the current situation and keep my end goals in mind. To me, this meant I could not put my entire life on pause. I could not call in sick and distance myself from the entire world like I wanted to.
I’m no longer enrolled in counseling, but when faced with stress, I adjust and make decisions for my own mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. I frequently wear a compass necklace as a reminder to navigate through life and keep moving in the right direction.
As I answer this question, I wish I could turn to the counselor I met with during high school and the counselor I met with during college who both helped me and just say, “Thank you.”
Q: What does Feminism mean to you?
A: I do not consider myself to be a feminist. I simply believe that if an individual has the desire and capability to do something, they should be treated fairly.
What I would like to start to see from women is female-to-female empowerment in the workplace. Many of us talk about it (#girlpower), but I often find that women often target and act malicious towards other women. If a female employee wants to be seen as an equal to her male peers, she should not spend time knocking down another female employee. From a male supervisor’s point of view, he might associate your comments with women all together.
We need to put aside our differences, get our job done, and empower one another. Until then, we will still be talking about the need for feminism.
I highly recommend getting together with other women in your industry, place of employment, or with a female who has similar job function. You could end up learning something new and/or experience a happier environment which you both may share.
Grab a drink, get smoothie, or do whatever you both might find to be easy and comfortable.
Q: Why should women take roles in business?
A: I am going to follow up with a (sassy) question…or two.
- Would a company like to limit themselves?
- Is it a women’s obligation to stay at home with no option to pursue a career?
I can answer both questions for you, no.
A company requires diversity to fuel new ideas and enhance the potential for profitability and expansion. If they would rather limit themselves to only about half the population, that is their choice and their risk. But nobody can deny the fact that there are female leaders and entrepreneurs that are driving economic growth.
Not all women desire to be caretakers.
As someone who works in a business environment, I feel that I bring value to my team and to my employer (at least that is what my paycheck tells me). If I propose a campaign idea that my male peers did not think of and it directly results in sales (and yes I actually have), then I deserve to be there.
What I do brings me joy, so I’ll be sticking around as long as I bring value.
Jessica & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below!