Image by Alice Mollon
Last week I met with fellow feminists and bloggers, Indira and Bridgette, to discuss our experiences as women and what feminism means to us. Leaving the coffee-shop-conversation I felt empowered and inspired to share with all of you some very important words of wisdom from three young feminists that can apply to everyone, young or old, woman or man.
Stop saying sorry.
The amount of times people say sorry for something that wasn’t their fault, wasn’t a big deal, or completely didn’t require one at all is astounding. Women especially are taught to apologize for everything, even if we did nothing wrong.
Instead of saying sorry, say thank you.
Here’s a scenario: You’re a few minutes late for a lunch date or coffee meetup. One option, the one most people automatically go to, is to say, “Sorry I’m late!” My option, one that is kinder to yourself, is to say, “Thank you so much for waiting for me!”
New scenario: You’ve been having a tough week and started to vent to a friend or coworker. Afterwards you could say, “sorry about that,” or just “sorry” quietly. OR you could say, “Thanks for listening” or “Thanks for letting me vent.”
Of course this doesn’t apply to everything, there are times when we really mess up and a “sorry” is due. Practice consciously thinking about whether the scenario is worthy of a sorry, or if you should be kinder to yourself and simply say thank you.
It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel what you’re feeling.
Women and men are constantly criticized for expressing emotion. Men are ostracized for crying or showing sadness. Women are called bitches or asked if they’re on their period if they’re upset or angry.
Don’t criticize others for their emotions. Listen. Be kind. and actively work against the stereotypes that men can’t cry and women can’t be angry.
Let your emotions be. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and ignore anyone who mocks you for it. Anger and sadness are productive, valid emotions and should be experienced and worked through rather than shut down and mocked.
This is a skill that must be practiced, listening is much more difficult than we would imagine. Active listening requires that you devote all your attention to the words and meaning coming at you. Don’t think about what you are going to say next or how what is being said relates to you. Just listen. When they’re done talking, that is your time to think, reflect, and respond, NOT while they’re talking.
This skill is not only important for relationships of all kinds, but for understanding other perspectives and stories that you may not be familiar or agree with.
If a woman or man tells you their MeToo story, listen. Don’t assume or respond like you know what they are saying, just listen. Listen and believe.
If someone tells you that they aren’t interested in you romantically, hear them out and follow those wishes. It doesn’t matter what you would say in response, or what you think of the matter. If they don’t want it, you don’t get it.
Stop Apologizing. Express Your Emotions. Listen.
These pieces of wisdom will help you be a better friend to others and be better and more kind to yourself. Encourage others to actively think about these skills and keep each other accountable.
Remember to love each other, be kind, and grow.