To celebrate International Women’s Day we asked some of our favourite women to share their wisdom. We simply asked them: what do you want other women to know?
Author, novelist, social commentator
The most important thing I want you to know is that you have a right to put yourself first without feeling guilty about it. In fact, you have an obligation to do so. If you are a parent, you need to model to your daughters how to manage your own life with confidence. You also need to be a model for your sons (contrary to popular opinion, you will influence their behaviour too) so they learn how to love, respect and support a woman who takes charge of her own future. You need to be financially independent so giving the same importance to your right to earn a decent income as a man would give to his is vital. Sacrificing too much for your children, partner, ageing parents or anyone else may lead to your children (particularly, unfortunately, your daughters) having to do the same for you when you grow old and – as so many women of my generation are discovering – poor. It’s time to break that generational cycle. Your financial security matters.
You are fine just the way you are. All you have to do is believe it.
The second thing I want you to know is that you are fine just the way you are. You don’t need to be thinner, younger, smarter, nicer, better trained, less mouthy, better dressed or better looking. You don’t need to try harder, work longer hours or exercise more. You don’t need to lower your voice or raise your skirts. You are allowed to be flawed, imperfect and self-indulgent. You have just as much right to be wrong as anyone else. You don’t have to be decorative, nurture others, be a shoulder to cry on or talk less – or more. You are fine just the way you are. All you have to do is believe it.
The third thing I want you to know is that you don’t need anyone’s approval and that seeking it is a crock of shit. Some people will like you, some people won’t. Who cares? Be yourself, regardless of what anyone says – even if they abuse, bully and mock you, actually, especially if they do those things. That means who you are is powerful and that’s why they want to shrink you down. Don’t shrink. Not ever.
The next thing I want you to know is that life is chancy and control is an illusion. Don’t worry about what might happen. Never anticipate. Just do what is in front of you boots and all. Sometimes it will go well, sometimes it won’t. So what? Move on to the next thing.
Lastly, life is short. Have as much fun as you can and never be ashamed of doing absolutely bugger all. You are not here to be productive (whatever your boss or the government may say). You are here because you are here. Enjoy every minute of the ride.
Jane is speaking at our sold out International Women’s Day event in Melbourne tomorrow. Jane’s newest book Accidental Feminists is on sale every good bookstore now, RRP $32.99, Melbourne University Publishing.