2016 is turning out to be the year of the woman.
Women in business are Leaning In and shattering glass ceilings. We are pushing back and demanding to be heard in the boardroom. We are redefining femininity, and we are fighting sexual harassment in the workplace, on Wall Street, and in The White House.
I left college during my senior year. I ran away. I ran away from a traumatic situation, an overload of stress, and an inability to cope with my circumstances. I’ve considered it my greatest failure in life.
Last year, I decided to turn my life upside down and move across the country to go back to the University of Florida. I decided to turn my greatest failure into my second greatest accomplishment (My first, being a mother). I left a career as a data analyst in the IT/Manufacturing industry. It doesn’t sound exciting, but I was proud of it. I worked my way up from entry level customer support and was promoted 3 times in 3 years. And yet, I was still constantly struggling to prove myself, to prove my value.
Let’s talk about value.
I’m a single mother. I almost died giving birth, with my best friend holding my hand and my parents in the waiting room, thanks to eclampsia. And yet, I walked out of that hospital on my own 2 feet with a new lease on life and was back at work within 3 weeks.
When I couldn’t afford food during a hard time, I stood in the welfare line for hours upon hours to get assistance, then listened to people tell me I was what was wrong with this economy when I used them at the store.
After applying to about 100 jobs and being denied, I threw caution to the wind and told my last interviewer that I didn’t care what the job was. I would clean their floors and they’d be the cleanest damn floors in the company, if that’s what they needed. I just needed a job.
4 years later, I decided I needed more.
Now, I balance being a reporter at a radio station, a freelance social media strategist, and a sometimes weekend bartender. I balance being the mom of a precocious 8-year-old who lives and breathes horses and wants to spend every waking moment at the barn. I balance a full load of senior level classes at a campus where I look like a parent instead of a student. And I’m loving every minute of it.I finally know how lucky I am to get the chance to balance it all. I finally get it. I am not alone in this struggle. This is not a story of failure. This is a story of survival.
Girls across the globe are fighting for the right to learn. They’re fighting for the right to embrace the same education that is freely offered to their male counterparts. First Lady, First Lady, Michelle Obama‘s “Mission to Educate Girls Around the World” is sharing so many of these stories from around the world, showing how girls gather together every day and say #WeWillRise.
Compared to these, my story is a simple one. It’s a story that thousands of women share. It’s nowhere near the most difficult. It’s nowhere near the most affecting. But it’s mine, and I want my daughter to know it. I want my daughter to know that #WeWillRise.