More than a woman
WHACK!!! A swift and solid kick had just been delivered straight to the center of my right gluteus maximus. I was doing my afternoon rounds with the residents and happened to have insinuated myself in the space between two beds to better perform a physical examination for a patient referred to our service. I quickly turned around to see who dared to do a “Kung Fu Panda” number on me and looked straight into a slightly puffy and pale face of an adorable two-year-old with a pair of mischievous eyes that were carefully noting my reaction. Surprising him with a semihug, I inadvertently felt his rock-hard stomach. I met his mother’s calm, serene gaze and my worst fears were confirmed. They were waiting for the results of the FISH panel, a test included in the work-up for leukemia. There was nothing much left to say for we both knew what remained unspoken, her son would be in for a long battle. Spotting a brown paper bag on their bed, I found a coloring book and spent a few minutes doodling with her little boy. Bedside rounds had abruptly been put on hold, it was important to let him know he had my full and undivided attention.
International Women’s Day. It was the middle of the week and the ballroom was filled. I would have missed the celebration if I had chosen to finish work that could have waited. I was more than glad I came. It was a deliberate move to open myself beyond the confines of my profession and see what the other half of the world was doing. The experience brought on a rush of feelings that I did not care to analyze. It was plainly just a feel-good moment that made me reappreciate the varied roles that we women play. I was reminded of the little boy’s mother and the quiet strength she exuded. Knowing what women are made of, I knew she could overcome the challenge.
“A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” This famous quote came from Coco Chanel, named by Time magazine as “the only fashion designer in the list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.” Sitting in a crowd that was a healthy mix of women from various disciplines, predominantly involved in the field of business, I instantly felt that I was in the company of women who knew exactly where they wanted to be. Listening to them recounting how they were able to get to where they were, how they were able to address the challenges trying to make it in a man’s world and be that champion juggler was in itself a continuing education of the realities that life brings and how best to try to deal with it.
Be God-centered. Focus. Be fearless. Work hard. Stop feeling guilty. Never lose your grit. Be persuasive. Embrace failures and turn these into opportunities for growth. Be relentless. Exercise patience. JUST DO IT! Avoid being a victim of the impostor phenomenon, as the checks you have made in your goal box will unconsciously become unticked, leaving you to question yourself, your abilities, and worse, your self-worth. These were but some of the key messages that spewed a thousand and one reflections.
As to the highlight, on a personal note, it was how the women chose to define success. Interestingly, it was not in the numbers in their personal bank account or the positions they held that they spoke of. What was distinct was how they were able to raise their children, for some, single-handedly, and how they are putting to use their place of privilege to be of help to others and to the community.
I am thankful for the little man who dared to exercise his little legs and chose me as his target. It was symbolic of that much-needed nudge to just go out there and learn to be in the present with something so unfamiliar. The experience served to enrich and inspire me and, just maybe, those induced reflections would create a better me.
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