You are too loud. You are too bossy. You are too ugly. Too smart. Too quiet. Too outspoken. Too opinionated. Too much. Too sentimental. Too old. Too young.
You are not enough.
I have heard almost all of these and their many variations. I have been told to adjust, to act a part, to fit a role. I have been told that my priorities should be different from what they are. And I am sure every other woman has heard it too.
In a world that could not exist without women, it is incredibly ironic that the idea of being a woman is scary. Being born a girl is seen as a disadvantage, a liability to a person and their families. It is an incredible responsibility that not many would be willing to take on. We are marked with an expiration date, a “best by” stamp on our lives and achievements. We are given limits, rules to be followed and lines not to be crossed. And when there is an attempt to change that we are called irrational and ungrateful.
We are expected to live life according to others’ opinions of us, by the socially acceptable image of a woman. We are told to go back to the kitchen, to leave the hard work to men, to do what is “natural” for women. And yet, this 8th of March of 2018, we can see that being a woman is something to be gloriously celebrated. This 8th of March commemorates the sacrifice and achievements of amazing women around the world, of every woman around the world.
This 8th of March is a promise. The past year has taught the world that women have an incredible amount of power and potential, that we are force to be reckoned and admired. It was a year of improvements and steps back. And, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we make a promise to build a future in which being a woman is no longer scary.
This 8th of March be a woman. Be a Frida Kahlo, a Misty Copeland, a Susan B. Anthony. Be a Marie Curie, an Amelia Earhart, an Oprah Winfrey. Be a Michelle Obama, a J.K. Rowling, a Mother Theresa. Be a Lupita Nyongo, a Rita Moreno, a Malala Yousafzai. Be a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Yusra Mardini. Be a leader, a businesswoman, a scientist, a writer, an artist, an actress, a mother. Write, paint, speak, do.
And to you, whoever you may be, I say congratulations. Congratulations on being a girl, on being born a step behind. Despite the obstacles you have faced, you are here today in the glory that hard work has brought you. Ignore the many people who will tell you how to think, how to behave, how to be, because whoever you are is already pretty amazing.
-Maria Velasquez Soler