What They Told Me To Be

To remember who you are

They told me not to raise my hand so much when I knew the answer because boys didn’t like smart girls; that mathematics, engineering and science was something boys did; that I “had a lot of imagination” when I said I was going to travel around the world (said by the family doctor while patting me on the head); that women didn’t make good “hard scientists” (by way of a greeting the first day on the job); that my primary purpose was to be a wife and mother; that I should quit my job, but if I worked, the housework was still my responsibility; that if I didn’t believe in God, my life would end badly, and; – within the past 12 months – that independent people were hard to love, men were intimidated by me, and finding a partner would be very difficult because I was too accomplished (three separate comments, the first one from a woman and the last two from men.)

Know what? I just laugh and let it go in one ear and out the other. I must have been eight when I figured out comments like these were about caging someone in. I remember thinking in that doctor’s office, “This man has no idea who I am. I am going to travel around the world and that is that.”

I don’t do cages. Never have. And life is great. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. So forget what you were told to be and be who you are. Kick those voices out of your head. Make your life your greatest work of art. PS: It’s OK to be afraid. Fear is my nearly constant companion. As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

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