I have had no shortage of amazing women in my life. It started with my mother, who has shown me the true depth of love and kindness. It continued with my aunts and grandmothers, who have been foundational in helping me establish respect for other women, and who help me learn about life through their wisdom and guidance. I continue to be inspired by these women as they show me what it means to be a family.
However, as the saying goes, you can pick your friends, but not your family. If adulthood and decision making have taught me anything, it is that picking good friends and mentors is one of the most important and conscious decisions that you can make. It has gotten me further than I ever could have imagined.
While I can never preach enough how important it is to have good girlfriends, having a tangible group of strong women that you respect occupies a different, but equally important category. They may or may not be the person you call when you break up with your boyfriend or if you have a flat tire at midnight, but they are the group of women you admire, aim to emulate, learn from, and seek professional advice from. While truly mentors, they are personal enough to know you as an individual, but can also be honest, supportive, and critical.
When deciding about my after-college path, I sat in the office of my college professor, who was brilliantly running a community engagement program by age 28. When I decided to move abroad, in addition to encouragement from that same professor, I had the support of my boss, who had taken a jump from a well-developed career in education to a small nonprofit. And when I needed life coaching, a former coworker sat with me at a coffee shop and allowed me to relay my personal and professional frustrations.
I found these people by seeking positivity, non-demonstrative critical opinions, and by allowing myself to be available and vulnerable even in situations where I wanted to be insular and hide. These women have made hard career and personal decisions, from switching careers to moving their families across the country, and for that reason I trust and respect them. When I needed their ears and advice, they listened and supported me.
In the brilliant words of Beyoncé, "You a bad girl and your friends bad, too."
I have always been encouraged to be the type of person that I would want to be around. I have been inspired by women who are motivated, focused, hard working, and resilient.
They refuse to quit, and I hope to be described in the same way.