Whilst I am not against International Women’s Day being on the 8th March and celebrating trail blazing women in the world, what I would like to do is explain why I choose to celebrate every day.
Why perhaps I see being a women in business as a very normal occurrence and why instead, I choose to celebrate every opportunity that I seek and create – with no relevance to religion, age, race or gender.
Yes, I am a woman in business. Yes, I run my own business. Yes, I even employ staff. But in my mind I am no different to a man doing exactly the same thing, and last time I looked, we don’t have an “International Men’s Day” (excuse my ignorance if we do….but I have never seen my husband celebrate it).
Let me give you a bit of a back story – a bit of my history as to why I am not celebrating on just one day a year or why I do not have the belief that one day I will have opportunities. I believe I always have had opportunities and I will have many more – if I choose to make them and take them. I have never been told I can’t do things by my family or anyone.
“If I wanted to do something – well I just went and did it. I have never let the fact I am female hold me back.”
When I was in Year 9 and 10 (so I must have been about 14 and 15), I was playing senior tennis at my local tennis club. This was a mixed tennis competition that played every week and I was playing against adults that were 2 or 3 times my age. Yes, I was actually fit back then – but my age nor gender did not hold me back. It was about talent and I was chosen to play based on that and that alone.
When I was in Year 10, I represented my school in volleyball – we travelled six hours to play in a competition in Melbourne. We were coached by the same coach as the boys team. We were, how do I put this, pretty darn average – but we wanted to play – so we were allowed to. We lost every game – but we played and I loved every minute of it. Never were we told we couldn’t do it.
When I was in Year 11 and Year 12, I went to boarding school (no I was not academic – my sister was – and my parents hoped some of it would rub off on me). They had a boys volleyball team who needed players – so I played for them – and we won the school final. Never was I told I couldn’t play. The other teams didn’t care I was a chick – I was just a player. Not a girl, not a fill in – I was a team member.
In Year 11 and Year 12, I also represented my school in both girls cricket and girls AFL. We played against other schools that had girls teams, we played on a full size ovals, full size balls (trust me – I had the bruises to prove it), we tackled, we wore footy boots, we bowled on the same pitches as the guys. Sure, the skill level was not exactly the same (understatement I am sure) – but we were out there having a go. Never once in my younger years was I told I would not be able to do something because I was a girl.
As I grew up, I guess that attitude stuck with me. You see, if you believe that we don’t have opportunities because we are a certain gender, race or religion, then you miss the opportunities that are staring at you in the face.
Whilst at university I represented my college where I lived in tennis, AFL, hockey, volleyball, swimming and god only knows what else (I was sports captain for the college so I pretty much put my hand up for everything that involved being late for lectures). Again, we were never told we couldn’t do it, we were told if you can organise it you can do it. A huge difference.
Give me a challenge and I gladly accept. Tell me I can’t do it, and I will prove to you I can.
I have worked at a Ski Resort in America, a Summer Camp in upstate New York, I have lived in London for 4 years, I worked as a tour guide in Europe for two consecutive summers. These experiences and life skills that I have learned along my journey are because I wanted them and I chose to make them happen. None of these career choices were easy or normal, but experience and opportunity won’t just land in your lap (trust me, as an accountant I had many people question my sanity when I wanted to do each of these things).
I know not everyone has all of these opportunities at their disposal, but opportunities are out there. I don’t see my journey as unusual or lucky or privileged – I worked my bloody arse off to travel overseas so many times and to experience the things I did.
Now as I have a family and a business of my own – I run by these same principles that I grew up with.
We don’t use the word “can’t” in our house or in my business life. If you believe you can’t do things, then you have already lost the battle.
I would like to teach my children they can be whatever they want to be, they can learn whatever they want to learn and they can travel wherever they want to travel.
I believe that opportunities exist for everyone but you need to seek them out, you need to want it and you need to work for it. In my world, opportunities are based on merit – nothing more, nothing less (I am not here to debate any gender pay gap – that is a total different blog post all together).