Dawn Davis Allen
Ladies, Let's Change the Narrative
Since my dad passed, I've experienced many changes. Now I'm reflecting on my life, my accomplishments, and my attitude. Certainly, age scars us with the trials life offers us. As I've aged, I've become more aware of things that I was oblivious to when I was younger. I remind myself of those lessons, but also, I've shared them with my students in the hope of changing the narrative for all of us. Life lessons for women:
Stop Apologizing. We issue the words, "I'm sorry" more frequently than men say they're hungry. We apologize for things we had NO PART in. I know it's partly rooted in polite sympathy. Someone says they're having a bad day, and our response is, "I'm sorry." Unless we made that person's day crappy, that is the wrong response. You can empathize in so many other ways. Please stop apologizing for everything. If something is yours, by all means own it and apologize; but before you issue those words, run them through a filter. "Did I cause this problem?" If not, sympathize and move on.
Accept that Compliment. Women in general are not comfortable with compliments. In fairness to us, we can never determine when it's genuine. If it's another woman, is she being passive aggressive and doesn't mean the compliment? If it's a man, does he mean it or does he have an agenda? Since we can't know, from now on take every compliment as genuine. After all, whether they mean it or not, doesn't make it untrue. Embrace it and thank them. It'll add sunshine to your day as you move on.
Give Grace Equally. Most of the time we are more accepting of the mistakes of others. We'll forgive a friend as we know they would forgive us. If someone causes us a delay, we'll move on. However, make a mistake ourselves? We'll dig up that after another year just to punish ourselves for it. Women especially suffer this as parents. I still regret things I did as a parent that my sons can't even remember happening, yet I've mired myself in guilt for those mistakes. It's time ladies. It's time to grant ourselves the grace we willingly hand out to coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. The next time it happens, simply say, I accept grace for this mistake, and I'm moving on. No more carrying these things around.
Mirroring How People See Us. I admire men. For one thing, society is nicer to men as they age. Women become victims before puberty. My grandmother was judging me before I even got there. "Her legs are skinny and her knees knobby. What's wrong with her?" This was the beginning of my realizing that how I looked at any given moment was far more important than any other factor of my being. Society hasn't changed much. Although, equality is working on it a bit as men now suffer from body image issues like women. It's wrong. Most people view us far kinder, than we view ourselves, and it's time for us to accept that the beauty we carry is more than one size, one height, one color, one look. See yourself as through God's eyes. You're perfect because He made you that way.
What does this have to do with writing? What we write and the way we write are determined by who we are. Those who read our stories will in one way or another embrace the tone and tenor of the telling. We have a chance to change the narrative that women in particular are less than. Let's challenge through our writing the lack of grace we offer ourselves. As writers let's encourage men but especially women to view us through a filter of grace.