Embracing Our Strengths And Weaknesses As Women

64df1b74-344d-46e8-ab09-68feacb9ea97By: Matheen

In celebration of the upcoming March 8th International Women’s Day, I would like to share and highlight women’s undeniable knack for embracing their strengths and weaknesses as women of today.

One is not quite sure if it’s down to women having two X chromosomes — is it because as women — we have 153 base pairs more than men (153 base pairs are the building material of a DNA and represents about 2,000 out of 20,000 – 25,000 genes), therefore we are genetically more equipped to handle more stress and be more resilient amidst life’s adversities?

According to UC Berkeley Professor Andy Scharlach’s research: “You become resilient by dealing with small-scale stressors that you are able to learn from. Women have many more opportunities to do that in their lives than men do, in part because they have more exposure to the stresses that come from being excluded from the privileges that come automatically to boys. And that continues throughout women’s lives as they carry different burdens and expectations from men. Women still carry more child rearing responsibilities. They carry more emotional load in families. The gender biases that exist either beat you down or develop a sense of yourself and others as being okay.” Hear. Hear.

As women, we work harder trying to prove ourselves at work, in society, and in politics. We work so hard and so smart that we’ve learned the two most important underpinnings of positive psychology along the way! First of all, we’ve learned that we cannot be competent at everything. That’s a fact. Next, we recognize that there’s room for growth when we focus on expanding our strengths rather than developing areas in our weaknesses. However, this does not mean that we ignore our weaknesses. Au contraire, success and growth comes from our very own vulnerabilities. We can only learn to manage our own weaknesses.

I’m going to use my personal experiences as an example — a living proof of someone who has gone though a lot of struggles, disappointments, failures upon failures — in her professional life and in her personal life. I’ve experienced rejections after rejections in my career. I don’t get what I want 99% of the time. I’ve been to so many job interviews only to be rejected and it’s always for the same reason: “You’re not the right fit.” When I do get a job, I always end up losing it after six months — you guess it — you’re not the right fit for the job! Due to the frequency of rejections I’ve had — the words “frustrating” and “disappointing” — have become such an understatement in my vocabulary.

Over the last four years, I’ve been focusing on starting my own business. It’s been an ongoing process. At first, I decided to focus on starting my own business because it would give me the stability and freedom to be my own boss — compared to working for someone, and keep losing one job after the other. However, throughout the years, this strong desire to work for myself eventually turned into a passion. A dream. A goal. By pursuing this route, I’ve put my efforts and energy to turning this passion into a reality, one small step at a time. It has not been an easy path to take. It’s been bumpy — not enough financing; no one believes in the business model; can’t find the right location for the business, and the list of obstacles goes on.

Two days ago, my business partners and I were an inch close to securing the right location for our business. Guess what? After waiting for nearly a month and after presenting our business plan to the landlord — my business partners and I got rejected because our business model is not the right fit for the location. Our hearts sank quite similar to how that precious jewel sank slowly at the bottom of the sea from the Titanic. Ouch. What does a woman do after such a rejection? For me, I allowed myself to go through all the motions — I felt anxious, followed by disbelief; angry at myself for not getting the landlords’ seal of approval; wallowed in my own failures as a business woman; having doubts on my business model and capabilities; I wanted to point fingers and blame someone; having that sense of doom and gloom; sadness, and yes, that sinking feeling of giving up. But these defeatist feelings only lasted a day or two. You may ask: “How did she snap out of it?”

No man is an island. It takes a village to make things go right. These old adages ring so true in life. I had to vent to the person that I trust most: my younger sister. By venting all my frustrations and disappointments to her — I was able to drive her crazy! No seriously, I’m truly grateful that I have such strong emotional support from the women in my family. When we go through our lows — our sisters, our mothers, our Bffs, continue to prep us up and lift us to a higher ground; they continue to believe in us even when we doubt ourselves. Having a solid relationship with other women help us through our low moments in life; being able to vent yourself to another woman — who knows what it’s like to suffer from rejection — is priceless. It’s as good as getting counselling from your therapist. Just having someone to listen to you and your woes can be therapeutic. There’s a special place in heaven for women who support other women! I can’t stress enough the importance of building and cultivating your own village of support. But like everything in life, you must be able to give back to your fellow women. You must be there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on or a bouncing wall. It’s a give and take support system.

Next, I went for a long walk; I brought my camera and took idyllic photos of Vancouver. This “pick-me-up” therapy never fails to make me feel better. I’ve always used my ability to express myself through creative pursuits — oil painting, photography and writing — to bounce back after a fall. Thank heavens for those landlords rejecting our business model, I was able to write this article and submit it before the deadline! Throughout the years, I’ve mastered the fine art of turning my failures into valuable lessons learned and further improving myself into my better version. Suffice to say, every time Life throws me lemons, I turn to my artistic side to come up with a delicious Margarita out of the lemons Life dealt me with!

The same goes with my personal life. When a date with a potential partner had gone wrong, I didn’t sulk. Instead, I put on my red Chanel lipstick and accepted another dinner invitation from another admirer. In life, one has learned to deal with setbacks, changes, and uncertainties because my sense of myself is not dependent on what I do or don’t; on what I have or not have; my sense of myself is entirely dependent on who I am as a woman, as an individual. Because of my failures, I have this deep understanding of myself, of my own feelings, and those of others; and to use this strong and solid comprehension to cope with the hand that Life deals me with.

By embracing our strengths and weaknesses as women — we inadvertently rise above life’s adversities. Life is like surfing — when you get caught in a tremendous wave or impact zone — you need to get right back up, because that’s just what you do when you surf; . By the way, I’ve not given up on my business goal — I intend to soldier on!

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

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