Growing up is tough. I still remember sitting in my college dorm and realizing that I actually had to go to the store to buy toothpaste and toilet paper. When I lived with my parents, it seemed that these and many other household items just magically repopulated. Little did I know that buying toiletries was going to be the least of my worries in years to come.
As women, we face particularly unique hurdles in life. We are lucky to have incredible examples of successful and thriving women around us, but it can be easy to let the inspiration from these women sit stagnant. Don’t let that happen to you. Let go of your fear; branch out and try something new.
As you look through this list of life lessons for women, find something that excites you, or even scares you, and then go for it!
1. You Must Be Your Own Advocate
“Young women, unlike our male counterparts, generally have too few people in our spheres that will advocate for us.” – Shelly Porges, of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.
In your career, in your romantic relationships, in your friendships, and in your personal life you should understand what you want, what you don’t want, and what you need. Be prepared to fight for what you need. As far as what you want and don’t want, draw a line as to how far you’re willing to compromise.
For example, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset that women make 78 cents for every dollar that men make. But when is the last time you asked for a raise or even negotiated your starting pay? Sometimes advocating for yourself means having an uncomfortable conversation or dealing with conflict. Don’t be afraid to put on your big girl panties and do what you need to be your own advocate.
Besides, if you don’t fight for yourself who will?
2. You Need to Embrace a Healthful Lifestyle
“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha
You’ve got one body and one mind – it’s time to start taking care of them. Establishing healthy habits now is not only going to benefit your current life, but will also be an investment in your future.
Start drinking more responsibly, washing your face every night, moisturizing every day, putting sunscreen on before you leave the house, getting enough sleep every night, reading a book before you go to bed rather than scrolling through social media, or enrolling in a class that you find intriguing a few times a year. Find any way you can to minimize stress and maximize happiness in your day-to day-life.This list may be overwhelming, but if you just take one small habit and work on it for a month, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate new habits.
And remember: When setting goals, it’s important to find that balance between improving your physical well being and your mental well being.
3. You Can Be Assertive AND Feminine
“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood
It’s so easy to think that you are allowed to be either assertive or feminine. These two traits are not mutually exclusive! Define what femininity means for you and don’t be afraid to incorporate those manifestations in every aspect of your life. Just because you’re a manager at work doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to be feminine and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t be assertive. This balance can be hard for women to master.
Establishing this balance takes time, but being aware of changes that you can make will ensure that you are authentic in all of your interactions.
4. Gossip Isn’t Good for Anyone
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Ladies, we are all in this together. Gossiping is an incredibly hard habit to break, but STOP! Fill your life with enough meaning that you don’t need to talk about someone else’s life to entertain yourself. There’s enough gossip about women in our world already. Be the type of woman that chooses to lift other women up, not tear them down. Although this means that you don’t participate in some conversations (or even feel a little out of the loop), being known as a woman that helps other women is far more beneficial in the long run.
Karma will do her job.
5. Courage Means Asking for Help
“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” – Cesar Chavez
We all need a little help sometimes. Asking for help shouldn’t become habitual, but it is important to understand when it is necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help that you need!
6. Life Goes On
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon
Sometimes life feels overwhelming. To keep perspective during these times is extremely important. Whether you are faced with a task that feels insurmountable, grief that feels overwhelming, a decision that feels impossible, or a future that feels terrifying, it is important to remember that life goes on. Struggling is a part of the journey. As difficult as these parts of the journey are, it is important to embrace them.
Embracing the difficult times will help you enjoy the best times.
7. Self-Sufficiency Is Necessary
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The confidence that comes from being self-sufficient will carry you through the hardest time of your life. It’s tempting to let your parents take care of you until you find a partner. But even if this is a realistic option in your life, don’t do it!
Knowing that you can take care of yourself is invaluable. When supporting yourself you’ll find that you are more judicious about your bills. Rather than automatically renewing your car insurance you may want to shop around. It may be time to start buying some of your makeup at the drugstore. And planning a staycation may have more appeal than an intricate vacation.
Assess your current financial state, look for any dependencies that exist, and do what you can to start ensuring you are self-sufficient. Being emotionally self-sufficient is just as important as being financially self-sufficient. If you feel that you need a partner to be happy, take some time to step back and figure out how you can become more independent. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break up with your current partner, but take small steps to establish habits that will give you the confidence that you need to thrive on your own.
8. You Can’t Please Everyone
“Let me listen to me and not to them.” – Gertrude Stein
As women, we have a tendency to try and make everyone happy. Sometimes people are going to be upset with you – and that’s okay. Trying to please everyone is exhausting and often provides poor results. Most often, by trying to please everyone you end up making a lot more people unhappy. Mastering the art of saying ‘no’ tactfully, being honest with others about how you feel, and understanding that it’s necessary to have uncomfortable conversations are all important skills to master.
Learning early on that you cannot please everyone will enable you to avoid a lot of stress in the long run.
9. Self-Compassion Is Invaluable
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcom S. Forbes
Be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other women. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Do the best that you can do and let that be enough.
If that isn’t enough for someone, it may be time to remove that individual from your inner circles. The power of positive thinking will work wonders in your life!
10. Friendships Take Time
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen
Making friends and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. It’s easy to be a good friend when convenient, but becomes much more difficult when it is inconvenient. Invest in a group of friends that you want to keep around for a long time. Schedule time to catch up with them, remember their birthdays, and be there for them when they need someone. Social ties have been shown to increase happiness levels and having people that you can count on is well worth the time that you invest.
As women it can be easy to have girlfriends when we are single and then forget about them as soon as we are in a relationship. Although your new relationship may be time consuming, be sure that you continue to reach out to your friends and keep those social ties strong.
11. Mother Knows Best
“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” – Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Whether it’s your mom or a ‘mom like’ figure in your life, be sure to listen up when they talk. It’s so easy to think that we ‘know better’ and that older women ‘just don’t understand’. Although they may not understand every single facet of the problem you are facing, their advice is worth listening to. If you choose to disregard their advice, you will probably find out the hard way that they were right.
Even if you don’t understand, it’s worth it to listen to and take the advice of your mom. More than likely, you will be happy that you did.
12. Obsessing About Men Won’t Get You Anywhere
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Create a life that you love and you will be able to attract partners into that life that are the type of partner you want long term. I know this is much easier said than done but it will be SO worth it. If you are continually evolving and becoming a better version of yourself, the odds that you will attract a better version of a potential partner will increase.
Investing time and energy into an obsession about a future partner is a total waste of time – avoid it like the plague!
13. You’ll Make Mistakes
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden
One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Focusing on and striving for perfection will result in heartache and frustration. Do the best that you can and be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, be willing to admit that and apologize if needed. Don’t apologize excessively; instead, take action.
Do what you need to do to fix the situation and move right along!
14. It Helps to Let Go of Stress
“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” Boethius.
Do you stay up at night and worry about things that are out of your control? Are you stressed about potential problems in the future? Being stressed and worrying are survival skills that we need, but that are often abused in today’s world. If you are constantly stressed or constantly worried your body can experience negative symptoms. These symptoms will soon become extremely problematic and cause other health problems in the future.
Learn to manage your stress now. You may need to see a therapist, take some time for yourself, or start participating in stress relieving practices to ensure you can let go of unnecessary stress. It’s a lifelong pursuit.
15. We’re All in This Together
“The success of every single woman is the inspiration for another.” – Dianve Von Furtsenburg
Ladies, we are our own worst critics. Stop talking about the way your coworker dresses. Stop belittling other women to get a leg up. Start encouraging each other, start being a positive force in the lives of other women, and realize that we are all in this together. Remember: The more women out there that succeed, the better off we all are.
Take these lessons one at a time and learn to truly incorporate them into your life. Slowly but surely, you will start to see a positive difference.
Featured photo credit: Woman hair falling via flickr.com