The Year of Me

Year-of-Me

Apologies as I have not posted in a while, life has been crazy and I have moved to this fancy new website! I don’t usually do personal posts but I felt the urge to share recently. I feel like talking about the quality of life and how each individual has the choice of making the most out of life.

This post might lean more towards the cliché so if you aren’t about that, now is your cue to exit. Now you’re asking what can I, a 25 year-old woman, tell you about living and life? Truth is I can’t tell you anything for sure, I’m still figuring it out for myself. But what I can tell you is that the last few years have been hard.

I have struggled with anxiety and insecurity but in this last year I have overcome so many obstacles and proven my strength, to myself and others. I have become healthier, both physically and emotionally and I’m back to my overly optimistic self. My favourite thing to say over the last year has been, “I’m just being Miley”, from the Miley Cyrus song “See You Again” (I’m not even really a fan but the saying somehow suits how I’ve been living for the last year).

Looking back I realize for a period of time I wasn’t myself. Letting people into your life is a risk, a risk we make almost every day. It’s a risk that can change you for better or worse. For about two years after I graduated high school I felt like I needed a boyfriend, I craved that kind of affection. I became obsessed with finding someone to fill the void and I did something very unlike myself; I found someone and became so dependent on them that I forgot who I was.

After taking some time to put that behind me I started to find me again. The clock struck midnight and I have turned back into my confident, independent and wonderfully optimistic self and I could not be happier. So you want to know my trick? I have been single for about a year and a half now, it hasn’t exactly been by choice but I think it has been for the best. Basically, I am writing this to tell you what I have learned in the past year and a bit of being with my true soulmate, me (and maybe my sister).

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The Year of Me

Fierce Females: Nicole

Nicole

What is it that empowers you most?
I love feeling like a capable, independent woman. Sure, I still live at home (I’ve been in university for 5.5 years, and I have 3.5 to go!), but I was raised to take care of myself. It was never my goal to meet a rich man who can also lift heavy things for me! I am instead empowered by my education and future career which will allow me to be independent; I am empowered by my physical strength and endurance; I am empowered by my integrity.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
As someone who has spent most of her life on self-improvement, this is a tough question! However, I guess I can say that is exactly what I do love about myself–I work hard to do well at the things that I love, because I love them.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
This is a tricky question for me, as it is for most women. As someone who struggled for too many years with disordered eating and self-image, I am all too aware of my love-hate relationship with my body. But it is honest of me to say that I feel most beautiful when I am dirty and makeup-less–after a hard run, ideally in a bit of mud too! It is then that I feel physically capable, and valued for it, rather than valued for my body and makeup.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I always struggle with “role model” questions. Not that there aren’t great female role models out there, but I suppose I would simply rather not completely identify myself with someone else. We’re all unique, and we’re also all flawed. Perhaps it would be fairer to say I find role models for individual aspects of my life; for example, when I ran track, my role models were my teammates. Some of them had such a hardworking drive to excel, but also knew when to listen to their bodies and take a break (this is extremely challenging for distance runners!). They had the right perspective about competing amongst school and friends, which was refreshing to be around.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Cleopatra! Margaret George, one of my favourite authors, wrote an amazing autobiography finally depicting Cleopatra as someone more than Rome’s mistress. She is instead described as a woman of fierce integrity and sophistication, a hallmark female in an age of patriarchy.

“You were valued by others long before grades, times or appearances mattered.”

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
This is a toughie! But I think I have to say that if not Cleopatra, Pocahontas (the fictional, Disney version). Who wouldn’t want to run around in the woods singing great songs all day with your pals, with some John Smith action to boot?

What is your biggest life goal?
My life goal is to find ways to incorporate all the loves of my life: music, sports, medicine and, of course, my friends and family. I find that as I am slowly forced out of the pseudo-adulthood I call university, I am being pushed to concentrate my life in one area–my career. But physician burnout is all too real, and I strongly believe I’ll be a better doctor (and better person) if I am able to continue doing other things I love. How can I preach health, yet not be healthy myself?

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Some would say my biggest accomplishment so far is getting into medical school, but I would have to disagree. I think my biggest accomplishments are to be found in running. As a slightly chubby kid, I loved reading, singing and acting–I was the least bit an athlete, especially compared to my superstar siblings. However, in junior high I discovered I loved running and cross country skiing. Although hardly a natural, I worked terribly hard (to the point of several stress fractures, which are not recommended!) to achieve my goals. No, I never won CIS nationals, but I won my own personal championship by pushing myself to reach my potential.

What is your favourite quote?
I guess this isn’t necessarily a real quotation, but I always liked the phrase “don’t limit yourself”. When I was in high school and a competitive cross country skier, my coaches asked us to all find a mantra or phrase to use when we were really bagged mid-race. I chose: “don’t limit yourself”. I find it still applies to my life, as it’s always tempting to self-limit and give up, but I’ve always been amazed by what I have achieved every time I kept going. This also requires getting over the fear of failure, a difficult task for most of us! Who knew I would run that time? Who knew I would be in medical school? Who knew I would still find ways to sing regularly? If I had limited myself back then, I certainly wouldn’t know it either.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
You were valued by others long before grades, times or appearances mattered. You are still valuable now, to the core, and now it is up to you to value yourself, always, as the dressings of grades, times and appearances will fade away.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism means forging your own path towards your ideal destination. Other people can come along for the ride and help you along the way, but they are not to steer you away from your own path.

Fierce Females: Nicole

Fierce Females: Breanna

Breanna

What is it that empowers you most?
I feel most empowered when collaborating with people in creative settings. I love hovering over a roll of trace and madly scribbling ideas with a design team— teaching international students how to dougie whilst repping the “stank face”— painting murals with inner city children and watching their faces light up with each brushstroke— I live to ignite that spark in others. Architecture, dance and art have been my favourite catalysts

What do you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to discover latent potential in anything, from abandoned objects to dilapidated cities. I refuse to look at the world as a static, impervious place. With imagination, there is always room for positive change.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Dancing. Any place, any style. There is nothing quite like getting lost in a song and trusting your body to explore the extents of the rhythm.

Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is my nana. She has experienced loss at unfathomable levels her whole life, and remains the most selfless person I know. Her patience is unwavering, and her faith and love for her family, indestructible. She is also fluent in six languages [self-taught]. Oh, and she is by far the best cook ever.

In addition to my nana, I want to take this moment to celebrate all of the incredible people in my life:

Here’s to my dad, who taught me how to hold a hammer, and the value of hard work. He never fails to remind me of my strength when I feel down.

Here’s to my mom. Words cannot describe the extent of her love. I am proud to have inherited her passion, emotional dynamism and zest for life.

Here’s to my siblings, for enduring all of my [continually] weird phases, and having my back no matter what… even provinces apart.

Here’s to my grandparents, for spoiling me with food, stories and warm hugs.

Here’s to my best friends, for the dance parties, hysterical antics, and heart-to-hearts over bottles of wine.

Here’s to my brilliant, goofy boyfriend, who supports my wildest ambitions and loves me unconditionally.

Thank you all for making me who I am.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I want to address all the female STARchitects out there… not the “Zaha” types per se, but the women who juggle stellar careers, raise families, and simultaneously make time for themselves. You are living evidence that we do not have to choose one or the other to accomplish great things. In my eyes, you are true heroines.

 

“my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world.”

 

If you could pick one fictional character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. She is tiny, clever, and fiercely independent. AND she has her own sword. So badass.

What is your biggest life goal?
In the cheesiest sense, my biggest life goal is to make a positive difference in the world. I want to find what I am most passionate about, push it to the extreme and share it with others. I want to make a hefty dent in the development of my hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba. I want to inspire at least one person who is experiencing self-doubt to realize their own strength. I want to share my life with loved ones. I want to travel the world and design spiritual spaces and places of healing. Lastly, when my time comes, I want to know that I lived my life to the fullest for the good of my community, without regret.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Graduating from my Bachelor of Environmental Design studies in architecture… or perhaps more importantly, recovering from 4 consecutive years without sleep, living out of the trunk of my mercury sable and the inevitable downward spirals from critique after critique.

I am proud of myself for taking time to work, for rediscovering favourite past times, moving to a new city and pursuing my masters degree. I am proud of myself for taking risks, maintaining important relationships, and forming new ones.

What is your favourite quote?

“What if?” – Jae Sung Chon

“Love wins. Love always wins.” – Morrie Schwartz

“Sometimes it’s the people no one expects anything from who do the things no one expects.” (The Imitation Game)

And because I am a Harry Potter fanatic:

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas.” – Alastor Moody

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
Stay weird. Wear artsy hats and sweatpants. Dance your heart out. Do not waste your energy on those who do not respect you in return. Four years of braces will be worth it, I promise. Find inspiration in something small every day. Trust yourself and always push the limits.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism is the destruction of the stigma that women are lesser, demanding equal opportunities and respect for all.

Breanna is a Habitat Visionary and Space Planner in Vancouver, Canada

Fierce Females: Breanna

Fierce Females: Crystal Lee

Crystal-Lee

What is it that empowers you most?
I am a grounded person because of my spirituality. It connects me in a meaningful way to people, events and myself. Through that connection I feel a call to action to live responsibly, speak my truth and follow my heart.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
Living with my heart open is what I love most about myself. It’s a challenge that I make consciously everyday. It takes a lot of strength to knowingly choose the higher road in situations that could easily turn into anger, fear or a number of other negative emotions. Staying open hearted always brings me through my life situations in a beautiful way and enhances my life.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Big comfortable blankets make me feel beautiful. When I am comfortable, warm and happy it is the best feeling in the world. When I am happy I feel like my smile is 10,000 miles long and it’s beautiful.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
Gandhi had a huge influence over me as a young adult. I feel that his teachings and more so the way he lived his life promoted courage, an intense amount of resilience, and selflessness for the purpose of a cause. Seeing what he and others have accomplished with a minimal amount of resources shows the power of the human spirit.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Coco Chanel. I saw a film on her and she rocked my world. She created the pants look for women. She bent to no one. She took risks. I loved her for this.

 

“My biggest life goal is to impact individuals in a powerful way with my songs.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
If I could be a fictional female character for a day it would be Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I have always loved that story and would love to see what wonderland is like. It’s pure imagination. It would be impossibly fun to take on the Jabberwocky or to play croquet with the Red Queen.

What is your biggest life goal?
My biggest life goal is to impact individuals in a powerful way with my songs. To be a voice that reaches someone at the right time, in the right way to give them a feeling or an inspiration that improves their moment. Eventually my goal is to work full time writing a recording my music and spending time working with other artists around the world with the craft of songwriting.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment with my career, is releasing my first EP “Drive” with Grey’s Fool. It was a songwriting project that I started with a friend that grew into an amazing year of studio work, travel and performing. The record features Grammy nominated musicians and sound engineering. I could not be prouder.

What is your favourite quote?
“You already have everything you need to succeed”. I heard this quote from a spiritual teacher and it haunts me. Every time I think that I need this or that to accomplish a goal, that quote is whispered in my ear then I find another way of accomplishing the goal.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
I would tell my 12 year old self “You are okay and you are loved”.

What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means that as a species human beings are allowing the barriers to fall and the blocks that our minds put up based on physical identifiers are moving into a thing of the past. Men and Women are capable of so much greatness. Equal means equal. Equally capable of succeeding and equally capable of failing. I think it is amazing that we have a word to define the command for equality. I see everyone as equal.

Crystal Lee Morgan is a Singer/Songwriter from California and Hawaii.
Connect with Crystal Lee: Website / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube

Fierce Females: Crystal Lee

Fierce Females: Adrienne

Adrienne

What is it that empowers you most?
What empowers me most is believing in myself; I try to have faith that I will have the awareness and strength to meet every situation with an open mind.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I’m not sure if I can point out one bit that I love more than the rest. I really try to love it all, and to accept it all equally, even the stuff that stereotypically might be considered “ugly” or “bad.” I think all the parts of us serve a purpose, and so it is all worth loving.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
When I’ve just taken a shower and I’m clean! On a physical level, I feel most beautiful when I’m well rested and have something to smile about. Most importantly, I feel beautiful when I feel clear in my mind and open in my heart.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I don’t really have one. I think it can become troublesome when we put other people on pedestals, because they are bound to fall. I think everyone is just trying to figure it out, and that is completely fine and human. There are people who demonstrate qualities that I admire, but I focus on embodying the quality, not the person. For instance, one of my friends who is in her 50s and has three daughters, a husband, two cats and a dog: I am so inspired by how she takes care of those around her and is willing to give her time and energy to support those she loves.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
When I was little, I really admired Athena, the Greek Goddess – I was inspired by her strength and fearlessness, which I felt I needed more of in myself.

 

“Don’t let people tell you that you are too young”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
It’s tempting to live in fantasy, but I think I’d rather be myself.

What is your biggest life goal?
To cultivate a state of being that is pure awareness, free of judgement or analysis. And eat lots of good food.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I’m pretty pleased with myself when I am able to get out of bed every morning! I don’t know if I can choose that…I’d like to think that my biggest accomplishment is the next thing I do.

What is your favourite quote?
“Maitri karuna muditopeksanam sukha duhkha punyapunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam” – which is line 1.33 from the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. It translates to, “By cultivating an attitude of friendship towards those who are happy, compassion towards those in distress, joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.” It clarifies for me that the yoga practice isn’t just about the physical, but about relationships and life.

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
Trust your intuition. Don’t let people tell you that you are too young, too this or too that. Trust yourself.

What does feminism mean to you?
Equality for all.

Adrienne is a Yoga Instructor, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counsellor, Kirtan Wallah in Winnipeg, Canada.
Connect with Adrienne: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Blog

Fierce Females: Adrienne

Fierce Females: Teri

Teri

What is it that empowers you most?
I have some great friends, the kind who remind me who I really am when I’m having trouble remembering.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
My creativity, my intuitive nature and my warped sense of humour.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
One quality that tends to be embodied by the people I consider role models: they’re willing to make themselves completely vulnerable by speaking their own truth, even in the face of great opposition.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
I’m a big fan of music, and especially music by female artists. Some of my favourite cultural heroines are women who push boundaries in both music and art: Patti Smith, Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos. I see Tori Amos’s influence in a lot of the music I adore. When she first broke onto the scene, there wasn’t anyone doing what she was doing, or saying what she was saying. That can be said of Patti & Ani as well. They’re  total bad-asses.

 

“there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from being completely cool with who you are”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because who wouldn’t want to slay their demons… literally.

What is your biggest life goal?
To get to a point where I truly love and accept myself, flaws and all. I think there is a certain kind of freedom that comes from being completely cool with who you are, and being at peace with yourself is the ultimate rebellion in a society that consistently profits by telling you you’re not good enough.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
These days, I’m trying to celebrate all accomplishments big or small, extraordinary or mundane. Today, I’m celebrating the fact that I never take the easy road. I try to stay true to myself, which has sometimes meant going against the grain or speaking up when others would prefer I stay silent. It has meant being brave and taking risks, especially when my first instinct is to run away. It’s not a recipe for a stress-free existence, but I take pride in the fact that I’m willing to push myself outside my comfort zone.

What is your favourite quote?
“Labels are for cans, not people” – Anthony Rapp

“Don’t try to win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.” – Brene Brown

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
The best thing about high school is that it ends.

What does feminism mean to you?
My feminism has many parts: Having the freedom to choose the life I want. Pointing out that clinging to traditional gender roles holds us all back.  Celebrating the strength and power of women. Demanding equality in every aspect of society.

Teri is an Community Outreach Coordinator in Winnipeg, Canada

Fierce Females: Teri

Fierce Females: Carolyn

Carolyn

What is it that empowers you most?
It’s the inspiration of beautiful images, music and views.  It’s people doing beautiful, giving things all over the world and the companionship of people across nations and cultures.  We are all human, there are more similarities than differences and I find that quite inspirational.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
That’s a tough question. I find it easier to talk about what I don’t like (my toenails) and what I would like to improve (my memory and spoken language skills). I think maybe it’s that I like most people and generally find interesting and positive things in most people.

What makes you feel most beautiful? 
I like the feeling of being strong and energetic and healthy which I get when I stick to a regular exercise routine.  I was never a sporty child or teen and it was only in my mid 20’s that I really started to exercise.  It took me a long time to realize that while I didn’t like doing the exercise, that I liked how it made me feel afterwards and on a day-to-day basis.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I don’t know that I have a role model.  I don’t think I know anyone or have seen anyone who is doing and living the way I want to live (not that I’ve achieved nirvana yet, but I’m working towards it).

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why? 
All those women all over the world who live quiet lives, with no hope of escaping the drudgery and menial tasks that they need to do every day in order to support their families and in the hope of building a better future for their children.

“Just go for it.  Don’t be scared.”

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?  

One of those Bond girls, but not the ones that die and not Moneypenny.  One of those ones who gets the Bond – don’t care which one – they’re all worthy.

What is your biggest life goal? 
To establish and develop my own brand as a profitable and growing business.  I would like to effectively marry the creative side of my personality and the need for business discipline and success, to be able to independently look after myself, those I care about and those who deserve a break.

What is your biggest accomplishment? 
Completing my MBA.

What is your favourite quote?  
If you will forgive me – it’s not a quick quote.  I can’t think of a quick snappy quote – most of them sound like they are off the back of a bathroom calendar.  So….it’s poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley called “Ozymandius”.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I love it, because it puts everything in perspective.

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be? 
Just go for it.  Don’t be scared.  Or if you are scared, just do it anyway.  Get out of school, but know that you will need to continue your education and learning for your whole life, dump the small-minded careers advice you (kind of) got and go for it doing what you are good at and what you love.  It is possible to make a living doing all sorts of fabulous jobs that don’t exist in your hometown.  There is a huge world out there full of wonderful people who can help.  Find your community by being positive and happy and let yourself enjoy thriving within it.

What does feminism mean to you?
It doesn’t mean man-hating.  It means freedom and not being blocked in your ambitions, achievements and sucking the marrow out of life.  Sometimes I even find it hard to realise when I am being blocked by others, because cultural and societal limitations that are placed on and around woman are so long-standing and can be quite insidious and sometimes they can seem quite well-meaning.  It’s good to hear the opinions of others, the comedy of Caitlin Moran (British comedian) and nothing replaces the wise council of close girlfriends!

Carolyn is a music blogger in Winnipeg, Canada
Connect with Carolyn: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Fierce Females: Carolyn

Fierce Females: Amie

Amie

What is it that empowers you most?
I think what empowers me the most is my belief that I can do anything in the world. I’m very thankful that I live in a country that allows for freedom and independent thought. I can dream up a million dreams, lay out a plan, and go after it. Not a lot of people have those opportunities or believe they do. I’ve been really thankful to have also been raised to think “If you believe it, you can do it!” stuff most millennials are fed, but my dad always reminds me that it doesn’t happen overnight. If you want something it takes hard work and patience, which is something that has become my mantra.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
I love my idealism, my creativity, and my passion the most. All three have some sort of downfall as well, like my idealism sometimes leads to strong feelings of disappointment, or I’m so passionate that it makes me terribly emotional. Overall though, I view these traits as something that makes me who I am, and I try to channel them into everything I do. I believe in the good in everything and everybody, so I’m usually positive going into every situation and dream really big dreams. I also love imagining new ideas and then I get really, really jazzed up about it. Oh, and I also LOVE connecting with people!

What makes you feel most beautiful?
Being active makes me feel beautiful. I probably don’t look very attractive while running a half marathon, but that’s the most beautiful I’ve ever felt. For example, I feel super beautiful in a hot yoga class and I look in the mirror and I just feel strong.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I have some really awesome female mentors out there. Whether they’re teachers, bosses, or people I’ve worked with. I’ve been very fortunate to have met and connected with some smart and awesome women. I think building relationships with other women who have come before you (or on the journey with you), and looking up to them (and telling them that!) is super important. So I guess I don’t have one role model, I have a bunch that I deeply value.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Oprah. I have a framed picture of her at my desk in an all white suite looking all badass, and it just reminds me of our cultural meritocracy and my millennial believe that “if you can dream it you can do it!”

On a side note, I don’t think we have enough cultural heroines because this took me a longer time than I’m comfortable with to answer this question.

 

“I feel super beautiful in a hot yoga class and I look in the mirror and I just feel strong.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
I’d be Carmen Sandiego, so that I could travel the world literally in a day.

What is your biggest life goal?
My biggest life goal is to enjoy the moment. I’m constantly thinking ahead or worrying about the future, and I have to take a step back and be in the present. Even if it takes a lifetime of practice, I want to appreciate every moment for what it is and find happiness wherever I am.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Can I say it’s a bunch of small ‘winning’ moments? Like the time I got the job or finished school are great, but they often lead to other small opportunities that are just as fulfilling. Sometimes it’s just getting up everyday and finding courage to do my best no matter what that is my biggest accomplishment.

What is your favourite quote?
This week it’s: “Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
Ayn Rand

If you could tell your 12 year old self one thing what would it be?
That it’s going to be okay. I still tell myself that everyday.

What does feminism mean to you?
I was listening to Sheryl Sanberg’s Lean In while driving back to Calgary for the zillionth time with my dad. There was a part in the book that specifically talked about how women often feel inadequate, and my dad stopped the recording and said he’s encountered those exact same sentiments throughout his life. In that moment I realized that feminism isn’t just about the equality of women, but it’s about us all working together to bring out the best in each other regardless of gender, race, or background. We should all work to encourage each other and judge less – we all have talents and deserve the right to share them with each other.

Amie is an account coordinator in Winnipeg, Canada.

Fierce Females: Amie

Fierce Females: Janis

Janis

What is it that empowers you most?
Knowing that my actions make positive change. It’s scary at the same time as empowering to know that I can make our world a better place – it’s something I’m always striving for.

What is it that you love most about yourself?
My choice to be happy. I often let the things going on around me affect my happiness, and often those things are out of my control. I’m choosing to be happy with what I have and what I can control, and it’s so great.

What makes you feel most beautiful?
My confidence. I don’t always feel confident, but when I do I feel strong, vibrant and in that I feel beautiful. Nothing can bring me down when I’m feeling confident.

Who is your biggest role model and why?
I have so many inspirational women in my life that I look up to. My grandmother passed away nearly 10 years ago, but what I remember of her is this strong, hilarious, caring, loving, confident woman who didn’t let anything stand in her way. I see this in my mom and my younger sister. These traits are something I look up to and aspire to emulate.

Who are your favourite cultural heroines and why?
Everyday heroines always inspire me. Women who fight for what they want, for their families, their careers, their beliefs and their rights.

 

“I don’t always feel confident, but when I do I feel strong, vibrant and in that I feel beautiful.”

 

If you could pick one fictional female character to be for a day who would it be and why?
Carrie Bradshaw (obviously!) the shoes, the clothes, the life, the job, the attitude.

Need I say more?

What is your biggest life goal?
Yikes, tough questions. I think my goals are always changing and adapting. As of late, I would say my biggest goal is to have no regrets. I don’t want to look back at any point and say ‘I wish I was there for this friend’ or ‘Why did I do that!?” or “Why didn’t I take that job opportunity” I want to live life as a good wife, friend, sibling, daughter, aunt.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
This answer isn’t going to sit well with many of you, but I don’t care (read what feminism means to me). My biggest accomplishment so far at the ripe old age of 25 is being married to my best friend and husband for four years. I can hear you eyes rolling!

Hear me out – marriage is hard, living with a boy is hard, sharing your life openly and honestly is hard. Getting married at the age of 21 when neither of us had steady employment and both fresh out of college is hard. Growing, learning and exploring life with my husband has stretched me and made me a better person than I was four years ago and I think that’s a great accomplishment!

What is your favourite quote?
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

I find this verse inspirational and confidence building. Being one of the youngest people in my field of work is hard; I constantly have to prove myself. This verse makes me feel empowered.

If you could tell your 12-year-old self one thing what would it be?
I don’t think I could limit it to just one thing! I want to say something profound like “Don’t put your happiness in other people’s hands” but let’s be real; 12-year-old me wouldn’t have listened or understood how to make that happen! I guess I would say, “Never cut your own bangs!” Maybe I’d listen to that, maybe not!

What does feminism mean to you?
I’m always redefining what feminism means to be, largely because I’m always learning and discovering more. Right now, it means I don’t have to apologize for being a woman. I don’t need to apologize for the choices I make with my career, my marriage, my faith or my future.

I have the power to make my own choices and I’m very grateful for that.

Janis is the Manager of Communications at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg, Canada.
Connect with Janis: Twitter

Fierce Females: Janis