I’ve been thinking alot recently about what it means to be successful and when you finally “feel” successful, what is it that you can contribute to the world. I have for the bulk of my career battled with imposter syndrome. It’s such an overused term these days that the effect of it is almost watered down. However, the deepest part of it is that at heart those who cannot take a compliment, acknowledge their hard work or see their contribution are actually crippled from being unable to see their own light and own worth. At the heart of it, is the thought of “Am I worthy of this recognition?” Hot on the heels of “I don’t see what others see”. 2023 was an eye opening year for me…I stepped out of my comfort zone to do something that scared the shit out of me. I put myself in a situation where I had to TRUST that I not only knew the law and applied it well, but TRUST my instincts, myself and KNOW MYSELF. I had to ask myself the questions about what was important to me and what legacy I eventually wanted to leave behind, no matter how long I sat on the bench and even when I went back into practice.
My legacy is that I want to approach the legal profession and everything I do from a place of personal power and absolute authenticity. For a very long time I have been fighting against being labelled the “pretty” advocate or the “well-put-together” one and also the poppie. I decided to simply embrace that. My sense of style is just part of me. The way I look is genetics. Should I be less because I am innately feminine? Absolutely not. However the reality is that in a male dominated profession, the more feminine you are the more you are underestimated.
What I want is to be the voice that says to women – be yourself. The world needs your light. Be feminine and still be assertive. Above all, do not think that to succeed you need to be as your male counterparts. Embrace all of you that is female and feminine and stay true to your essence. We all struggle with moments of self doubt and are highly critical of ourselves. More so, women are continuously wanting to be perfect career women, mother’s, wives, daughters, sisters. We attempt to be all things to all people and in the process we lose ourselves in pleasing everyone around us, in being overly perfect and in the system that we are professionals in. And let me remind you that we ARE professionals. We are driven. We are ambitious. We are smart.
For too long I’ve both been part of the system where bullying is rampant and borne the brunt of it, witnessed it perpetrated by women on other women and also seen how women can rarely progress because often we are our own worst enemies. Let me put it this way – if you just stepped into the fullness of who you are, completely, unashamedly and powerfully, NO ONE would be able to stop you. Stop giving your power away by giving energy to things and people that drain you. Stop giving in to demands and pressures by managers, CEO’s and everyone else. You are here to take up space and the space you hold is unique in itself. Never forget WHO you are in a system designed to make you feel like a robot. Be funny be passionate be friendly be everything that speaks to your essence. BUT have boundaries like a MOFO. Part of taking your space and being authentic is delineating it. Part of advancing in this profession is using your feminism to combat what is an adversarial system designed to constantly make you compare yourself to others and especially to our male colleagues. That’s not what you’re here for and that’s not why you’re doing this. Most people know they have a purpose and try to follow their purpose. My sentiments this year are simple to all the younger legal professionals I’ve worked with, as well as women in general. Let the haters be your fuel. Be sparkly be shiny be bubbly be unique. HOLD YOUR VISION OF WHAT IT IS YOU ARE CREATING. HOLD YOUR VISION OF WHAT YOUR MOST SUCCESSFUL FEMININE WISE SELF LOOKS LIKE FEELS LIKE AND IS. . . AND THEN ….GO BE HER. Let’s keep encouraging each other and grow instead of dragging each other down. And yes., I’m aware there are bigger issues in the world right now, however, we can’t change anything in the broader world unless we change things in OUR own secular universes. And for God’s sake, please, when I say be feminine, I do not mean be a simpering fool. I mean be a strong feminine.