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What I wish I had told the airplane lady

I always travel on an aisle seat. My recent trip was no exception. I was flying back home, and now that the two seats next to me were taken, I got ready for my flight! With my earbuds in, seat belt buckled, and iPad open to my book, I was confident that I was sending all the “not interested in chit-chat” signals.

Alas. My seatmate was oblivious to the message I was trying to send or simply did not care. After numerous taps on my arm asking me questions, I finally gave in, much to my chagrin. We started to chat.

It turned out we were both nonprofit executive directors, albeit with vastly different perspectives on the role of work in our lives. She espoused living and breathing her profession 24/7, dedicating every non-working moment to reading about the latest industry trends. I, on the other hand, believed that having a life outside of my work was not only my right, but necessary for my sanity and success.

She asked me what I do outside of work that I am so passionate about. I shared a few things, including my blog that I recently started. Big mistake. When I answered her question about monetizing my personal writing, telling her I had no such plans at the moment, she was mortified. Why would I spend time on something without creating any return on my investment? She simply did not understand doing something for the joy of it. Our conversation reached an awkward impasse.

Finally, I smiled and told her that she surely must know that she is in no position to question me or ask me to justify why I do what I do. That ended the conversation. I wished I had said as much earlier and stuck to my plan of ninja introversion. We landed shortly after that. But the conversation replayed in my head for days.

When I put my coaching business “She Leads Fearlessly” on hiatus, I stopped writing about women’s leadership because there is so much more to being a woman than a narrow understanding of “leadership.” What I wanted, I finally realized, is for us to talk about “being a woman” in a broader sense — not to tell you what to do, how to think, or how to be, but simply to tell you my stories while creating space for your stories to emerge and unfurl, too. This is the ultimate reason I write what I write, but there are many more. I wish I had told my seatmate this and all the reasons I am about to share with you.

I write so that I can see myself beyond my title and accomplishments, remember who I really am when the work day is over, and find solace in a world in disarray.

I write because I am yearning to normalize telling and writing our stories, to change the narrative that our stories are not worth committing to paper.

I write to overcome my fear that I don’t matter unless I constantly produce polished and well-thought-out pieces that “teach.”

I write and put it out there because history should include women’s stories, and this is the only way to hear the voices of women that have been suppressed for too long.

I write because we, the women, will become visible with the stories we write.

I write to own my stories because my stories hold witness that I was here! I LIVED! I LOVED and was LOVED.

I write my stories so that if someone finds and reads them by sheer coincidence and they relate, they don’t feel alone.

I write as an invitation to other women, to give them a space where they can begin should they wish.

And last but not least - I write because I am a woman with something to say. My point of view and stories of what it means to live as a naturalized immigrant woman in the US of A matter.

Why do you write? Tell me everything you want me to know.



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