Have you ever stood in front of a mirror, and instead of looking at yourself, you see thousands of people sitting in an auditorium, looking back at you? Not just looking, but listening…

I believe that most of us, if not all of us, feel that we have a message worth sharing. That there is an audience out there that is waiting for us to release something to them. Something that will make them want to move from being idle to full steam ahead.

Why was it that I could stand in front of that mirror and believe that I have something to say, and still never move outside the walls of my own limitations? What made me believe that my voice had no power to really create change, even though everything on the inside of me screamed the opposite? 

As a woman, growing up in a male dominated society, it would be easy to use that as the only excuse. Because it is real. After years of women standing up for their rights, the fight is still very much alive. It is like each generation has to begin again from scratch. Strong women from each generation dare to stand up and speak out and because of this they are labelled and shamed and ostracised . Called feminists, as if feminist is a curse word. None of us want to be that woman, so instead we shrink back to the place where society has decided we should fit in. The place where most women die slowly. Not literally, no, because we have become masterful in pretending to be happy in that space. But spiritually, because it is a space were we have no voice, and we are only expected to do and be.

Even though the struggle of being a woman in a man’s world is very real, agreeing with the limiting belief that this is a man’s world makes our struggle even greater. As women we have used that excuse too many times. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that there were just as many men who cheered me on and believed in me as those who thought I should be made silent. Men who wanted me to step up and take my place as an equal with them.

When a girl child is born, she is a clean slate of equal potential. There is absolutely nothing that she is not capable of doing. If that is the case, why do we see little girls growing up with the idea that men are superior and that their voice holds more authority? That she has to stand back in confrontation or argument?

Throughout the generations, there have been so many truly remarkable women. Women who were leaders in business, politics, academics, medicine. But why are they seen as the exception to the rule? Why are they being celebrated as extraordinary, while men who achieve such things are seen as the norm?

Is it possible that we as women have allowed that lie to become so much a part of who we believe we are, that we are not even aware of it? That we are blaming the world, men and inequality, but in reality, we have this deep rooted belief that it is just the way it is supposed to be. If that is the case, we have to apologise to our daughters. We have to take responsibility for the fact that because we were programmed to be the weaker vessel ( whatever that might mean) we raised weaker vessels. Girl children who had so much potential, but because of us, our warnings, our reprimands, our standards, we have not allowed any women to look or sound unfamiliar to the mould we think we should conform to.

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted greatness. I wanted my life to matter, to make a difference. I was very vocal about it, telling every one who wanted to hear, and even those who did not, how much I was going to contribute to the world. Today I know that if I was born a boy, I would have been celebrated, encouraged and promoted. But because I am a woman, I made enemies, I was labelled incorrectly and my message was misunderstood. I had to prove myself in every place I wanted my voice to count. I had to convince people, instead of just being allowed to be who I am.

The worst part is that I got the biggest resistance from fellow women. Instead of encouragement and respect, I was told to accept. Accept that this is just the way it is for us women. Things will never change, men will be men. Again blaming the men instead of admitting that women who challenged the norm made us uncomfortable.

I am still on this journey of discovering the power of my voice. Now at 54, I like the sound. I am no longer listening to that inner voice who sounds like previous generations, telling me to be silent. Telling me that others will speak, that I am not enough. I am sure that in 20 years from now, that voice will be even louder, encouraging others, calling the young ones to trust themselves, to step out and to speak up. To be and to do. Equally. We might be surprised to find that true equality will come from within – not something that others have to allow us to step into.

I make a choice today to extend my arms towards other women. I choose to celebrate your greatness, to recognise you as equals in a world of great inequality, to believe in the voice of every young girl who believes in herself and to fully own my femininity as a gift.