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Young Women Leaders

Push Through

The fall semester of 2014 is coming to an end. Yes, here in Sweden we are still on fall 2014 time, at least in the university world. This semester has been my thesis semester for my M.A. in Political Science at Stockholm University. It has been hard. Academically and personally. I am now preparing to survive the last shaky hours of this week, and then beginning my final semester at the university before the real life in the real world starts.

I am shaky and breathless. My head is filled with air and all I really want is to work out and drink wine and meet friends and sleep a lot and not think at all. But I have to push through. I have to push through this last week even though I dread it to a high extent. I try to imagine myself and how happy I will be when this week is over. It will be over soon. Then I will be happier. Will I?

It has been a wonderful semester in so many ways. The most important part has been my stay in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I got to interview young women leaders within activist work. They have inspired me so much and I am eternally grateful that they gave of their time and experiences so I could write this thesis.

Think of me this week, will you? Send me happy and positive thoughts and strength. Thank you. ❤

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I´m a Foreign Correspondent, Y´All!

To all of you Swedish readers, I am now a correspondent at FUF-korrespondenterna. Check it out!

(and I´m sure the blog can be translated into English for those who desperately want to read :))

The Power of Vulnerability

How often do you feel like you can let your guard down and just go? Let out feeling and emotions that you just bottle up and not feel ashamed and stupid about? I always thought that that is what you can do in a romantic relationship but lately I have begun thinking that one shouldn´t wait for that (if one is not in one), and maybe go more towards being vulnerable in more situations, letting it out in little pieces bit by bit?

I have a tendency to build up stuff that eats me up from the inside, and ignore them, not recognizing that they are there, inside. Then they build up and finally, something really small can send me off the edge to breakdown, anger, tears and self-hate. I have written about this self-harming behavior here before. It is worth considering in this case, as self-harm can take many more shapes and forms than the obvious forms, such as cutting.

When I was in college, my mentor sent me this video, about how being vulnerable is actually really good. When I watched it the first time, I cried and cried because I recognized how hard I was (and still am) on myself. I kept those high standards inside me, not wanting to show their negative effect on my thoughts toward myself. And I never ever showed how bad I sometimes felt inside and how much damage I would to myself by thinking in negative spirals.

The other day I watched the video again, and I teared up. When I am under much stress, I do still sometimes treat myself in that same way. With damaging words, locking myself up. It is more rarely now though, maybe because I am older, maybe because I have learned more about myself. That I do not know.

But I do know that letting those who love you see you vulnerable is friggin´ scary and you may not want to let all parts out because it is painful. I also know that those who love you will help you and support you, just the way you would if a friend opened up to you, right? So I think it is a good thing to open up, to different people, the ones you trust and confide in. Open up more for more people, it is powerful to be vulnerable.

And knowing that others deal with the same thoughts of insecurity will make you love them more.

power of vulnerability

Is Beauty a Blessing or a Curse?

My American teacher and mentor posed a question to me this summer: Is Beauty a Blessing or a Curse? From time to time since then I have pondered this question and tried to look at it from different perspectives. A few weeks ago I texted a few friends and family members about this. Thank you Erika, mom, Simon for your input!

So, my first thought was that beauty is a blessing, but since my mentor is sharp, I knew the answer would not be that easy. Of course, when you have beauty/looks/attractiveness others will be prone to treat you better, right? (?) To a certain degree I believe that is true. But if a random person came up to you, asking you a question, wouldn´t it depend more on their kindness, smile, way of being polite affect the way that you would respond?

Still, knowing looks is the first thing that people see about you, it gets a good-looking person on the positive side at first. And a not-so-good-looking person is at a disadvantage. Maybe? And the first impression lasts, supposedly.

But it can be a curse too: I for one have prejudice against good-looking people. I become suspicious. Like “they have their looks and now they´re going to use it to get what they want.”
And it can be a barrier. I´m scared to talk to good-looking people! There, I said it! It´s scary to look at very good-looking people, just because of how they look. Why? Weird.
Beauty can also give unwanted attention, looks, catcalls, people just being interested in you because how you look. A shallow attention I assume.

(Rob Lowe basically says it´s crappy to be good-looking!)

And maybe others can´t see past your looks, thinking that you got where you are because you are good-looking, you can´t be sharp, can you? Is it a barrier to be good-looking in academia for example? You´re supposed to have glasses and not care about your looks, because knowledge is all you care about? You´re not shallow like that are you, because you´ve got your brilliant mind! I know there is at least two professor at my school that are always mentioned with the addition “he/she is so good-looking!” Why do we do that?

Nerdy girlSource: Piratecake

I guess kindness and honesty is just as important when talking to a person, maybe more important in the long-run. And once you get to know a person´s inside, those thoughts of looks disappear in some way. I mean, if you realize a good-looking person is mean, their looks don´t matter anymore. They become unattractive because of the way that they behave. A good-looking outside doesn´t really matter if you are ugly on the inside. And if you are beautiful within, your outside doesn´t matter as much, right?

But that takes some careful thinking about the way that they look and what they are actually saying and the way that they behave. And do we always think about that? And do we think about it differently for men and women? In leadership? I think women in leadership are expected to care more about their looks than men are. What do you think?

I WANT TO WEAR WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT

Hello friends!
So I am back, and once again you can all thank wonderful Clara for sharing the video that inspired me to write this blog post 🙂 The video is made by Kaylee Commons and you should def watch it. Love it when people get into important subjects like these!

For starters, I do hate these articles or whatever we should call them, online, in women’s magazines, etc. that give the opinion of what men think of women’s clothing. Blargh. Couldn’t care less. And the thing I hate even more than these articles/advice/crap even existing is the fact that I READ THEM. Why??? Because I want to know what men think about how women dress? Do I really? NO.

You know, lately I have been thinking a lot about what we are taught as women growing up how to behave and how to dress. I remember trying to fit in during junior high and high school, wearing the ”right” things and trying to be like everybody else. During an orientation with the Young Women’s Empowerment Zone last year we had a group exercise where we got to explain to the other women about our 13-year-old selves, what we dressed like, what we thought about, the music we listened to and so on. We also got to write advice to ourselves at that time.
My 13-year-old self wore jeans and a sweater most of the time. I also had glasses and was really afraid not to fit in. One of the other girls at the Zone (who went to my high school) told a completely different story, where she had worn short skirts and low cut tops, embracing her own and new sexuality, feeling good about herself.
At that moment, I envied her because the advice I had given myself was “these people are mostly stupid, you will not be in touch with them in ten years and they do not matter” and I so wished that I would have been able to step out of my shell at that time and dye my hair purple, wear ripped jeans, or whatever I wanted at the time. I’m not sure what I would have wanted to do, but I just wish I would have gone bananas with it!
And I didn’t dare because of what I thought other people would think of me.

Back to the video, there are so many things that other people (men AND women) think of other people’s clothing, and it’s just stupid to collect random sayings of some jerks in order to make others feel bad about it and their looks in general. JC, as if many women don’t feel bad about their looks as it is! And as if men would be appropriate to give us advice on how we look. I’m sorry, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. The need for men’s approval in all kinds of situations is something we should erase from your mind. All you need is you and your approval. And maybe sometimes your awesome and supportive friends´ support (be they men or women).

Just wear whatever the fuck you want to, as Kaylee says, if you feel beautiful, you are beautiful. Maybe that should be a goal of the year? Wear more of whatever the fuck I want! And you too? That’s a YES!

Happy Saturday!
PS. You should check out Kaylee´s YouTube channel here, her Tumblr here, and her Twitter here.

How to Be Alone

I just got a comment by Clara who had read my previous post Finding your worth, not as single, but as an individual and recommended this video and encouraged me! Thank you Clara, suggestions and positive responses are so great and I really do love the video.
So this video is showing all the great things you can do on your own, and highlights why one should be alone and what good that comes out of it.
It is true that society expects us to not be alone, but being alone is so important in order to know yourself and develop as a human being. I think being alone is the best. If I go too long without hanging out with myself enough, I get anxious and stressed. Just being by myself puts me at ease and relaxes me. And makes me love me.
I hope all is well with you all out there, take care of yourselves and be alone with yourselves.

Poem written and performed by Tanya Davis
Animation, photography and editing by Andrea Dorfman

How to talk to your daughter about her body

This, my friends, is an excellent way to talk to your daughter about your body. 

Finding your worth, not as single, but as an individual

On my train ride from Stockholm to Uppsala this Sunday evening, I entertained myself by reading a newspaper left on the seat by somebody. I got to my horoscope, and in a second, my mood went from excited-inspired-happy to grumpy-annoyed-sad.

What did my horoscope say? Something along the lines of “your partner is not happy, you should give him/her some extra attention and enjoy your day.” BARF. What? I have no idea how many people from my sign are in relationships, but there and then I had no interest in continuing reading the paper, because my horoscope did not apply to ME ME ME. Definitely a silly reaction, but what I was really pissy about was the fact that I had let a stupid (and probs untrue) horoscope dictate my mood. Then I thought “why not dedicate a blog entry to the holy two-someness of society?” And here we are.

The below statements for society probably goes for all people, but since this is a blog for young women leaders, those are the ones I will focus on. Since I was around 12 I have dreamed of a two-some relationship, something I have only really lately begun questioning as a rule that society has dictated for me and that really has nothing to do with my happiness. Sure, I can complain about the lack of potential partners because of various reasons: too young, too old, immature, non-caring, stupid, etc.

But this is not really where the problem lies. You have heard this before: One cannot be happy in a relationship if one isn´t happy with oneself. Sure, I would love to meet that amazing person to open up my life to and share it with, but am I really ready with myself on my own to do that?

Probably not. When I get past that “I hate everybody who´s in a perfect relationship with their perfectness and cute apartments and children and blah blah blah” I see that not being able to be alone whenever the hell I want to scares me.

[I love you all my friends and family in relationships, I am happy for you, I really am, just FYI.]

There are a lot of great things being your one and only individual in life. Mostly egoistic ones, which is great. I strongly dislike the fact that because two-someness is the “right thing” according to our social norms and standards, I feel like a sad person being on my own and doing things only with me or with my friends.

You know what? Being your own individual ROCKS. Why? Because all I have to care about is really me. And there is no need to look for something else, my life should be at its best at every single point, so let´s embrace the situation NOW!

Reasons you, as a strong individual young woman leader, are perfectly happy:

–       You have all the time in the world to care about you, yourself and you. You (and I) can go home, not speak to anybody for 48 hours or more if you want to. We can invite whomever we want over for last-minute plans and make a great event out of it. We can go to concerts, events, dinners and such and only care to invite ourselves and a smashing outfit (have a body. Put a bikini on it).

–       We can go off traveling/studying/working wherever we want to (and our money allows us). And if we do not have enough money, we can make some and then naturally spend it all on ourselves. Because yes, that is what we deserve.

–       We have the chance to explore ourselves, mind, body and spirit, and figure out who we really are, and what the most important person in our lives (OURSELVES) love doing. Nobody but you can know you best, and knowing yourself takes time and effort.

–       Figuring out how to LOVE YOURSELF unconditionally. You is the best thing you´ve got. Love you. Explore what you love sexually, mentally, physically, emotionally.

I have seen a lot of discussions lately on the internet, social media, media in general etc. about relationships and so on. I even got on this dating site because I do long for a committed, equal relationship. Tried it out for a bit. It´s a learning experience but I´m not sure that´s IT for me.

Let´s face it: society and our own minds tell us that the ultimate goal for us young women is to find a mate and to live in holy two-someness forever and ever. But if that´s just not cutting it for me? Well, then I will become a lonely, single, sad person.

HELL NO. Let´s embrace being our one and only person. The most important person in our lives. In MY life. If somebody awesome comes along, that´s great. But I need to respect and love myself first and foremost. And you should too.

Love always,

Hanna

Everyday Sexism

Everyday Sexism. Women speaking up against sexual harassment. Leadership right here, right now.

New challenges, new successes

TWO people told me in person today that they have heard of/reads my blog. It´s so great to know! I mean, I see my stats and stuff, but really knowing who notices this blog is a great inspiration!

So I am currently attempting to formulate an entry about why you should embrace your individual life (popularly known as “single life”). Watch out for it!

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