When I was a girl, the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books where especially well-known and widely read. As a girl you would learn from the series ‘Pippi Longstocking’ with fun and independent thought that being a girl would not necessarily mean being soft or weepy or helpless.
On the contrary: the song that came with the movies I watched long after reading the books, “I make my world just as it pleases me … ”
(my translation from German) encouraged girls to do what men in patriarchal society have done for centuries, if not thousands of years:
set your goals and try to reach them, your way.
Authenticity in Everyday Life – A Challenge?
I heard a TEDx talk the other day by a Harvard Business School professor, about trust and how to build it. She identifies three pillars for building trust, one of them authenticity.
What she goes on to say and what I agree with in every particular is this:
- Authenticity means: “Be you.”
- Easy to do, she adds, when you are with people who are like you.
- But, “being you” can be a challenge, when you are different in some contexts, she adds, too.
- It can lead to being tempted to subdue and hold back our own true and individual selves in contexts we seem not to fit into completely.
To me that is a very true and a very important statement. I am at odds with my surroundings to some extent, very often: I am not your average girly woman weeping into the silk handkerchief waiting to be rescued.
I was raised on just this idea: be independent and know that the ‘Cinderella complex’ is not just an invention, it’s there. You can prevent it.
Diversity: by Tolerance
I am an M.A. of literature and philosophy, yet I am passionate as well about technical matters, devices, coding, digital technologies, you name it.
As such I have worked around and with scientists as well as developers who in many respects think and live differently.
I love diversity!
But living it in surroundings with all manner of people who are not always sure how to understand you, when you are so ‘different’ to them, compared – is not always easy.
Men, Women…? – People!
I also think that I am not the only person ever to have felt this way:
The duality and conflict can be hard to bear, at times when there is awareness of it:
- I may be at odds with my surroundings in some contexts.
- That does not make me ‘wrong’. Just different.
So, how much adaptability is needed – and how much is good for me?
I’m sure that men are often faced with this conflict in the opposite sense: they are supposed to be always strong, superior and ‘ready’ – even if they don’t feel like that – at all…
And ultimately, not only as men and women but just as human beings in different parts of the world: being at odds can become a new but also fruitful feeling to start realizing who you really are.
The strength to ‘be yourself’ in any surroundings sometimes is hard to find; but worth it.