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Are You a “Girl Friday”?

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“Women have a way of giving, giving, giving. It’s how we love, and love is how we exist in the world, even if sometimes it taxes us to the hilt.”

If you are a woman, the answer to that question, is without a doubt: YES. The traditional meaning of the term “Girl Friday” refers to a secretary/personal assistant, but I take it to mean a jill-of-all-trades-type who can do any task, large or small, that you ask her to. Women are, by nature, multi-taskers. I know this is true because I saw a PBS-type special in which they tested out the differences between the sexes and tried to prove if any of those gender stereotypes are actually true. They gave a group of test subjects, half men and half women, the same tasks to do. One of the tasks was to boil water, cook an egg, heat something in the microwave, and make tea – simultaneously.  Domestic, I know, but it proved a point. The women all did this well. The men all succeeded in burning their water, exploding the food in the microwave, or frying the egg when they were trying to scramble it. The men, however, did redeem themselves in the parallel parking test.

Sexist scientific examinations aside, we women know we’re good at mult-tasking. Not just good at it; it’s how we exist. Nature has embedded us with the ability to do many things at once so that we can thrive as an individual member of our species, while simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on our offspring so the species is sure to survive as a whole. This ability often leads to stress and a perpetual sense of overwhelmed-ness.

I recently went to a Women Business Owner’s Network Event in Vermont with my colleague Amber Chand at the Women’s Peace Collection.  At the beginning, everyone was asked to stand up and introduce herself by saying her name and her job and company. Everyone did so in an orderly fashion, trying to stand up, speak, and sit down without taking up too much time. But about half-way through, one woman stood up and said, “Everyone is being so modest! I know all you women don’t only have only one job.” I nodded my head. She was telling it like it is! Even the woman who works in one full-time, non-management position could easily add any of the following “jobs” to her resume: Mother, Caretaker, Volunteer, Board Member, Doting Wife/Sister/Daughter/Friend/Confidant. Women have a way of giving, giving, giving. It’s how we love, and love is how we exist in the world, even if sometimes it taxes us to the hilt.

I'm a Girl Friday for The Women's Peace Collection which supports women in regions of conflict and post-conflict as entrepreneurs and skilled artisans

But what about those of us who have other dreams besides being a model employee and the rock that our family and communities depend upon? I’m referring to Big Dreams; capital B, capital D. I know every woman harbors a dream of her own which has nothing to do with our relationship to anyone else, be it our boss or our life partner. It could be anything: gardener, jewelry designer, dancer, or singer. These dreams go beyond the traditional roles of “employee” or “nurturer,” and are instead a manifestation of the dreamer’s deepest desire to be a leader; to be on stage and to shine, whether that stage is one for her art or for her own private business. A friend of mine wants to start her own daycare. Another friend wants to become a speech therapist.  My dream is to be a writer. So what is stopping us? What is holding us back from chasing that dream full-throttle?

As I said in a previous post, we women often devote ourselves to supporting other’s dreams instead of our own. But another batch of women is trying to do both; find a way to make money on the side and pursuing our true ambitions around our jobs and commitments. Or as I like to call it: hustlin’.

I am more than just a writer. I have half a dozen other skills, which I can do more or less efficiently, or at least fake my way through. These include project management, graphic design, anything to do with social media, and stuffing random data into excel sheets into a somewhat organized fashion. Ok, great: these skills collectively make me somewhat employable. But I think they’re more interesting because they lead me to wonder: what are other wannabe artists doing on the side to keep themselves fed and clothed while they strive for fame and glory, or just self-realization?

My friend Kenya Williamson, another aspiring author manages the balancing act between her muse and her Girl Friday admirably:

“I don’t feel selfish for catering  to or encouraging my muse. Just as you’re helping people at your day job, you’re helping people with your creativity —whether it’s through entertainment, compassion, provoking thought or giving inspiration. It’s about balance. I strive for it every day. I don’t always get it. But, as long as I don’t devalue my talents, I know I’ll get back to the work I was born to do. And I won’t shame myself for time spent elsewhere.”

Let’s all take a lesson from Kendra and work for our muse as much as we work for our boss, and with the same positive attitude.

I want to hear from you! How are you a Girl Friday?

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5 responses »

  1. This is so true! I am a “Girl friday”. A job, my own business, my daughters, my husband…and so on and so forth. So why are women not recognised as they should be? I really wonder. When is the world going to understand that we are giving far more than our fair share? Maybe we should go on strike!

    Reply
  2. Well said. As a retiree and widow, I finally have time to work for my muse. I spent too much time working for a boss. I always looked forward to a retirement spent with my husband, traveling and just being together 24/7. Unfortunately, I lost that sweet man to cancer before either of us retired. So grab all the precious time you can to work for you muse, whatever it may be!

    Reply
  3. Hi Kerina

    Found you on She Writes. Great article, totally sums it up. I spent years going from local job to local job, balancing (not) bills, bosses, husband and kids. All the while feeling like something was missing. I prayed, and prayed. Eventually I felt like the jobs were actually squishing the life out of me.

    I jumped and started writing full time, free stuff for local companies, local newspapers, an inspirational blog, online article marketing. I’m starting to earn some money and I will never go back. It’s been tough but it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.

    God bless all you writers! Thanks for a great post.

    Claire x

    Reply
  4. Wow Kerina what a wonderful post. If I didn’t know better I would have thought it should be named RevLa you are such a girl Friday, Tues, Wed, Thurs and Monday too….but you said it well I’ve balanced and not well working as charge nurse in a busy intensive care unit as charge nurse in a busy emergency room, as assistant pastor of a busy church, wife, mother of four, owned two small businesses, event planner, grandmother of two, keeper of two boxers, and school nurse of an elementary school, and guess what I still hold all of the jobs currently..however now in my vintage years I discovered that I can let somethings go or at least not do them full time. With children grown and living their own lives I’ve let that go…I rediscovered my love for writing and want to do two fiction books…now I haven’t given up my need to do to many things at once because I have four ministry blogs going and two blogs that just for She Writes and me and I have two new businesses in the process and some ebooks to complete and to develop the blog radio and have several couples to marry and conducting several pre-marital sessions and….wait what was the question I was suppose to answer???? (ha,ha,ha). No really all jokes aside what I have learned is that there is a time in your life that you must be you. You must go after your dream as you stated with Big Y and a Big D. You must go after it by any means necessary and don’t stop until you have reached that goal. As you go after whats in your heart then you must reduce your stress and stop trying to be superwoman well as much as you can. Doing for everyone is our nature and how we show love but we always forget ourselves we must first show love to ourselves thus finding time to do “Me”. Good work and I will keep up with your blog post. smooches RevLa…aka..Rev. LaWaughn Rouse

    Reply
  5. Hi, Kerina. I find myself in an enviable position: no pressing need to be employed (as long as my hubby stays employed), an empty nest, a new business I am passionate about (designing upcycled women’s clothing) and a part-time, fulfilling job teaching ballroom dance. I have all the time during the day to blog. I’ve been told by the youngest of my three daughters that I earned this phase of life, this time to devote to pursuing my dream full-on. I earned it after years of misery on the job.

    The guilt, however, is hard to dispel. I try to overpower it with gratitude. But I suspect feeling guilty for “selfishness” is as much ingrained into a woman’s mindset as the urge to nurture and give all we’ve got.

    Reply

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