What did you just say?

Right now, I just feel like shaking my head in confusion.  And having a brownie, but that’s unrelated.  Mostly.

For one of my summer internships, I’m writing feature stories about families affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  During an interview, after discussing the struggles that ensue when a loved one develops Alzheimer’s, the woman I was interviewing and I had an informal chat about the modern professional world and my future career.  From her position in the administration of a community college, she told me she’d seen the ratio of women to men in the workplace even out a bit over the years, but not as fast as she’d expected, given that “we’re smarter.”  I agree with her that, in many ways, it’s still a man’s world and women are at a disadvantage, or at least are missing out on some privileges.

When I told her I wanted to be a journalist, her first reaction was to tell me how hard it’s going to be.

No shit.  Really?

True, I probably have no idea what I’m getting into, but I’m 21 and I haven’t gotten into it yet.  It’s normal for me not to know the future, and I sort of like it that way.  Not seeing the future lets me off the hook for having every single detail of my entire life planned NOW, and I think it’s more exciting to work with the unknown.  Scary, sure, but more exciting than knowing exactly what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

And why should something being hard be a deterrent?  What’s both easy and really worthwhile besides brushing your teeth?  I’m not afraid of difficulty, and I’ve made a decision.  Why should anyone try to talk me out of it?

To top it off, as I left her office, this woman gave me a piece of advice that was only half a joke: find a sugar daddy.

What disturbs me most is that the person who made this comment is clearly conscious of challenges women face in the workplace.  She expressed a desire for women to be equally represented in the professional world.  And yet the message she’s sending me is that I need a man to be successful, that what I want to do is “hard,” so I should find a man to make it easier for me.

What?

No.  I’m not going to do that.

I’m not afraid of difficulty.  Heck, I seek challenges.  When things get hard, I will buckle down and do my best.  Whether I succeed or fail in life or smaller situations, it will be me doing it.

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