The Glass Ceiling

As I'm sure most of you know, on April 12 Hillary Clinton announced that she will be running for president in 2016. This is a BIG deal. Whether you agree with her politics or not, you have to admit that it is an amazing thing to see a woman run for president. This is history in the making and we are living the reality of a more just and equal world. I feel so lucky to be growing up in a generation that gives opportunities to those who never had access before. The voiceless are now being heard and the invisible are finally being seen. When I was 18, I witnessed Barack Obama become the first African American president of the United States. And now, to think that his successor could be a woman is just awesome. Hopefully, my girls will be able to grow up in a world where they are not discouraged because of their gender, race, or cultural background. 

I talked to the girls this week about Hillary. We discussed how what she is doing is revolutionary and has never been seen before. Since we have been together since October, the girls know a lot about how women and girls have been oppressed throughout history. They understand how even though we are capable, society has pushed us into thinking that we're less than men and undeserving of high-powered success. Hillary is a symbol of how far women have come. It definitely hasn't been easy, but Hillary has found a way to enter a male-dominated field and occupy a space that no woman has ever occupied before. To illustrate the struggle, I showed them this picture: 

In life, there are 2 ladders: a ladder for women and a ladder for men. Both ladders are challenging and both ladders require upward mobility, but they are not the same. The ladder for men is a normal ladder with the rungs equally spaced for efficient climbing. However, the ladder for women only has 2 rungs. While the ladder on the left is not impossible, it is definitely much more challenging and requires quite a bit of creativity to make it to the top. This ladder scenario is the reality for women trying to enter high-powered careers in male-dominated fields. In order to be the president, a CEO, or a business executive, we have to work 10 times harder to make the dream come true. And in the end, the reward is so much sweeter because we conquered the storm to get there. 

We also talked about the concept of the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling is a metaphor for the unfair system that prevents women and people of color from achieving powerful jobs. In order to put this more simply, imagine this: You're in a tall building that has tons of floors. You're climbing to the top and you're doing great but just when you're about to get to the rooftop floor, you are confronted with a ceiling made of glass that won't let you go up anymore. You can see the rooftop through the glass but you can't get to it. That's the reality of women in the workforce. We can climb the ladder to a certain point but end up getting stuck by the glass ceiling. I tell my students every day that the sky is the limit. There is no dream too big for what they are capable of. I know that's what I believe, but is that really true for my girls? Is the sky too big a dream for what they're allowed to do in this world? My goal is to train my girls to know that nothing can hold them back from achieving their dreams. Not words, not men, not social norms, not cultural expectations. We are in control of our own destiny. Let's not let the glass ceiling keep up back from fulfilling our true potential. 

I wanted to make the glass ceiling concept more "sticky" for the girls so we did a little activity. I gave the girls a large piece of paper and told them to write all of the things people say or do that hold them back from being their best self. 

Then, the girls stood under the paper to represent the glass ceiling over their head. On the count of 3 they shouted "I am a strong girl!" and broke through the glass ceiling. 

Yay! They did it! 

What glass ceilings exist in your life? How will you break through them to reveal the strong, empowered person that you truly are inside? 


Trust the Timing

Have you ever been reminded of the same idea over and over again through a series of different situations? For me, the quote above has been the theme of my life this past week. I use this blog not only to share with you what I taught the girls week, but also as a way for me to be transparent about myself as well. I try my best to be open and honest on here because maybe it will be just what someone reading this needs to hear. That being said, this quotes really resonates with me because it's something I struggled with for a very long time. Growing up, I frequently felt like I was fading into the background. I got rejected, I failed at things I wanted to be good at, and I felt like I was never great at anything. In college, I watched all of my close friends begin these amazing relationships while I, on the other hand, was nowhere close to that. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad for me. In fact, there are many blessings that have come my way throughout that time as well. I was a cross country and track runner, I got accepted into my 1st choice college, I got my Masters degree, I landed a teaching job before I graduated, and I even moved halfway across the country all before my 23rd birthday. I am truly blessed. However, at the time, there were so many other things that I really wanted that just weren't coming in the way I had planned. It's like I had a timeline in my head and I was late for all of my appointments. I was never satisfied because my life wasn't going according to my plan. Within the last year, I finally came to the conclusion that my timeline really isn't in my control. It's out of my hands. All that I need to worry about is trusting the timing and enjoying the ride along the way. So now, after years and years of waiting, I finally have what I've been waiting for and I am happier than I've ever been. But what makes this happiness so sweet is that I know that I earned it. I was patient, I waited, I trusted that everything happens for a reason. And although the waiting wasn't the most desirable at the time, I am thankful for the wait because it made me into who I am today. I know that I am a strong, capable, and deserving because I took the time to love me instead of someone else. 

This week, I talked to the girls about making mistakes. It's something that we all can relate to. We're human and we do things without thinking sometimes. After sharing a few laughs about the silly things we have done, I told the girls that mistakes aren't always a bad thing. Most of the time mistakes happen in order to teach us a lesson. It teaches us to not act that way again and it also teaches us about ourselves. Situations in which we make mistakes come into our life at a certain time for a reason. They may bring people into our life that we need or open doors to new opportunities that we never expected.  I read the girls a chapter from a book that a friend of mine gave me for my birthday. The book is called Girls Think of Everything and it tells the story of a bunch of different women throughout history who have created something that we still use today. I read them the story of Ruth Wakefield. Ruth was the woman who invented Nestle Toll House chocolate chips. What makes her story so special, however, is that she made chocolate chips by mistake. I shared Ruth's story to show the girls that sometimes a mistake can be a blessing in disguise. Even if it's not what we originally had in mind, we need to trust life's timing because it might lead us to something more amazing than we even imagined. 

I went to church this morning and it was awesome because he was talking about this same topic! He talked about how trusting the timing of our life is like waiting in line. We are forced to endure a period of time where we're not necessarily getting what we want but we're still moving forward to ultimately achieve our goal. It's important to remember that the best things in life aren't just handed to us because of many reasons we may or may not understand. Maybe we're not ready. Maybe it's not the right time because something else is about to happen. Maybe we're not mature enough. He said something that really struck a chord with me and I know it will make an impact on you as well: "You can't microwave maturity". We can't take shortcuts on the path to our dreams. The journey is just as important as the destination. There are places you need to go, people you need to meet, and lesson your need to learn before crossing the finish line. And those moments are just as special and wonderful. Regardless of if you think you are your best you at this very moment, someone out there needs you just as you are to change their life. 

My question for you is this: Who's waiting on you to keep walking the path of waiting to open the door to their destiny? 

THANK YOU for coming along with me on my path of waiting as I continue my own journey to making my dreams come true. Leave a comment if you enjoyed so I can see who is reading! You are loved and appreciated! 


Express Yourself!

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you all had a beautiful weekend with your family and friends. :)

One of the many reasons why I created Girl Rising was because I wanted to teach girls all of the things that I desperately wish someone had told me when I was growing up. From the time I was in 4th grade all the way through my first couple years of college, I struggled with feelings of insecurity and self doubt. I lived in fear of thinking that everyone was judging me. I missed out on opportunities because I was afraid of what others would think. I spent all of my time letting other people define my identity and allowing them to determine my happiness. Because of this, the real Kelsey was lost. I had no idea who I was because I never took value in getting to know me.  It wasn't until I finally felt comfortable enough in my own skin that I was able to step back and get to know me for me, the good and the bad. The real me is pretty awesome and it's a shame it took me so long to figure that out. I don't want my girls to feel how I felt. I want to be the person that prepares them by saying, "This is what you will go through, this is how you'll feel, but this is how you'll conquer it". I want my girls to awaken their awesomeness now, not 15 years from now. 

This week was all about self expression. Expressing yourself authentically is actually really difficult. In order to allow ourselves to be free, we have to be okay with being vulnerable.  You have to be put it all out there without worrying about anyone else but yourself. It's definitely difficult, but when you finally do it, there's not greater feeling.  The only person you know how to be is YOU! Be confident in who you are and express yourself in a way to fulfills who you are inside. 

The girls are doing a great job of expressing themselves weekly in their journals. It brings me to tears to see how much they have grown since the beginning. They are thinking of things so critically now and are digging deeper to come up with the most authentic reflections. I am so incredibly proud of the little feminists they are becoming. 

Here's a couple of my favorites from this past week: 
Don't come in the world with a script. Come into the world making your own life.
And especially don't get that script from a boy. Be in control.
Pretend the world is a piece of paper. You be the one who writes on it.
Don't let the world write it for you. 

Women should fit on this earth. Picture a $5 bill - the boys are 3 and the girls are 2.
Girls should be 3 too. We should be equal to all men. Women, let's not be $5, like men 3 and girls 2.
Let's be $6, boys 3 and girls 3. Us men and women fit the world.

One way that I have fun expressing myself is by singing and dancing. Not so much in front of adults but definitely with my students. It's a great way to practice self expression because it's different for everyone. We all do it differently and that's what makes dancing so special. So the girls and I played a little game this week called Pop See Ko and it was seriously the greatest thing ever. I live for these moments I get to spend together. 

Take some time this week to stay true to you! Whether it's through dancing, singing, or writing, express yourself in a way that is authentically you. Be proud to be who you are because you are special! 

"Today you are you, 
that is truer than true. 
There is no one alive
who is youer than you!" 
- Dr. Seuss