Popular author, Elif Shafak, once said: “Male writers are thought of as “writers” first and then “men”. As for female writers, they are first “female” and only then “writers”.”
Language, like most other things, is stuck in a patriarchal web. Since everything public is easily accessible to men, they have to make space for women when we step up. Since language hasn’t caught up, they often add ‘female’ or ‘woman’ behind any title we work hard to get. It may be a good try, but the term ‘female writer’ takes away from the fact that the woman is a writer. A female anything takes away from the fact that we are more than just our reproductive systems.
On some days, it is difficult to hold on to the spirit of life. On some days, our careers draw more from us than we can give. We have to constantly be at the top of your game, upskill, learn, be driven and focussed, and justify that we are worth it. And this is only an add-on to the inconvenience of being female in a man’s world! So, let’s go back to the words of those who made it possible for us to be anything at all. Let’s go back to the words of those who can inspire us, from whom we would like to seek advice.
Here are 8 quotes from (female) authors that will inspire you if you’re feeling stuck in your career.
“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.” – Maya Angelou, I’ve Learned
We spend so much time trying to improve our quality of life materialistically that we forget to pay attention to things that genuinely keep our spirits up. We run behind better jobs, better degrees, better salaries, better cars and houses, only to realise that we haven’t done anything that sparks joy within us.
Take a cue from the inspiring Angelou: Ask yourself, “what makes me truly happy?” and run toward it. It’s never too late to chase your dreams. Learn, educate yourself, create a side hustle, upskill ﹘ do everything within your power to be truly happy.
“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know.” – Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
Don’t know what exactly your career goals are? That’s okay! Give yourself time. Make a list of your interests and skills, evaluate where they align, and decide what careers fall on the radar. Be realistic about your goals, and persist. The more you feel that your skills are being utilised, the more you will feel exposed to better experiences.
“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved
Knowing your value, standing your ground, and having confidence in your skills are traits that you should cultivate along the way. If you have them, you have clarity; that is one the best qualities a person can have.
Assess your skills and weaknesses, your soft skills, and your work. Find out what you are good at and hone those skills.
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
We are constantly in the pursuit of happiness. When we are busy working towards achieving our career goals, it is easy to lose sight of what we really want out of life. We attach our happiness and worth to a lot of factors in our working lives: our salary, our employer’s appreciation, our colleagues, exposure and experience. In times like these, what really helps is remembering that we’re more than our job, and our worth is greater than what happens at work. When things go south professionally, we need to be able to trust and rely on ourselves.
“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” – Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Career dreams manifest when your skills and interests align with opportunities. There is nothing you can’t achieve once you put your mind to it. Create a vision board, put even the unthinkable on it, and start. Start small, but begin. Take small steps, learn, ask for feedback, and take the leap of faith.
“Expectations are like hidden rocks in your path—all they do is trip you up.”- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Palace of Illusions
Having fewer expectations doesn’t mean that you are not hopeful- it means that you will be willing to make the best of the opportunities that come your way. Your career dreams can manifest in so many ways; there is no one route to your dreamland.
“…learning was an act of rediscovery, knowledge a form of remembering.” – Jhumpa Lahiri
Learning is like healing; it happens slowly, over time. We can never learn enough. There is a vast ocean of knowledge out there. The best way to keep your skills sharp and your mind young is to be ready to learn anything and everything. No knowledge goes to waste. So whether you want to upskill, reskill, or pick up a new hobby, do it!
“Either way, change will come. It could be bloody, or it could be beautiful. It depends on us.” -Arundhati Roy
Change is often looked at as a challenge because it forces us to shift outside our comfort zone and expose ourselves to unfamiliar territory. Change in our professional lives can be tumultuous, but look at it this way ﹘ you get to learn, experiment, and grow! Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it is a chance to be better at what you do.
We go back to these words for a reason ﹘ they hold a little bit of truth. Work can be tough and grilling when you have to combat the disadvantages strewn across your path but there have been women before us who have achieved the unthinkable. They have paved the way for us, and they have left lessons for us to learn. We might need to take a break, have a good cry, have a cup of coffee, and read them from time to time to remind ourselves what we are capable of.
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