As a 33-year-old woman, I’ve encountered my fair share of figurative walls. I’ve been told I’m too feisty and too ambitious. I’ve been told I’m too loud and too demanding, and I’ve been told I want too much. I need too much; I ask for too much.
By now, I can see that much of that has simply been because I’m a woman — and that I’m expected to fit into a very specific mold. The world wants me to be pretty, smart, loving, and strong, but not too powerful. Not too bright. Not too sensitive. Not too brazen, or too bold.
But I refuse to buy into all of that. And neither does Toni Hammer, a Babble contributor and the writer behind the blog, Is It Bedtime Yet? Hammer took to Facebook September 23 to make sure her daughter knows she can be whatever (and whomever) she wants to be. And her powerful words are resonating with thousands.
“To my daughter,” Hammer writes. “Don’t apologize when someone else bumps into you. Don’t say ‘sorry to be such a pain.’ You’re not a pain. You’re a person with thoughts and feelings who deserves respect. Don’t make up reasons as to why you can’t go out with a guy you don’t wanna go out with. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. A simple ‘no thanks’ should be acceptable.”
Oh man, there is so much truth here. But that wasn’t all Hammer had to say: She also wanted her daughter to know it’s okay to speak up. It’s okay to speak out, and it’s okay to cry.
“Don’t hold back your tears,” her post continues. “Crying means you’re feeling something that needs to get out. It’s not a weakness. It’s being human. Don’t smile because someone told you to…[d]on’t hide your opinions. Speak up and speak loudly. You should be heard. [And] don’t apologize for being who you are. Be brave and bold and beautiful. Be unapologetically you.”
And while Hammer’s letter was written to her daughter, her honestly words left me in tears, because I am both a “girl mom” and a woman — a woman who has felt many of these insecurities myself.
In an interview with Babble, Hammer goes on to explain what led her to write the post:
“My daughter started kindergarten this year which really heightened my anxiety. I was picked on a lot in school and I was projecting my fears and experiences onto her … [and while] she’s got friends and things are going great part of me still worries about that first time she is made to feel less than … so I wanted to put something on paper … something that [reminded her that] it’s not everyone will like who we are and that’s okay. It’s not our job to please everyone. It’s our job to be true to ourselves.”
And it seems this message is really resonating with Hammer’s readers. At the time of this writing, it’s received over 2,000 reactions, hundreds of comments, and been shared more than 1,800 times.
Hammer believes that’s because it hits home with “women of any age, not just the young ones,” especially because as “women get older, we become more accustomed to putting our needs and likes and desires behind those of everyone else in our world, and it seems like this post reminded women to be strong and independent and take care of themselves.”
It certainly did.
When asked what advice she would give to young girls (and grown women) who are feeling the weight of these same pressures, Hammer had this to say:
“Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. Your role in life isn’t to win the approval of everyone in the world. Your job in life is to be kind to others, do your best, fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, and be exactly who you are because the world needs YOU and all you as an individual have to offer.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m about to make that my daily mantra.