The working girl identity

vet

Until I turned 21 –  my plan was to become a vet. Play with kittens all day long. That is, until I started in veterinarian school in Paris and felt totally out of place. I dropped out, only 3 days in. Took biology for a year (and cried myself to sleep regularly) until I decided that it was not for me.

When I think of this, I also remember that I never meant to become a journalist, until I became one. Or how I promised myself never to work with computers again after 2004 – and here we are. What I tell young people is that sometimes you have plans but then life happens.

Enters working girl.

I never thought of myself as super serious, in fact, in high school, I felt pretty stupid. Sure, I knew my stuff but I could not have imagined that one day, I would work for one of the world’s biggest corporations. And doing things that matter. Because, in all seriousness, your life choices are a serious business and if I can contribute to more young talents chosing STEM careers, I think that’s good for them and it’s good for the world. But sometimes I feel like I’m an alien in this corporate world. Because things are not so black and white. Choose this – reject that.

I might think I appear serious to people – but others might not see it that way. Trust me, there are much more serious people around me. But I don’t think its about added seriousness necesssarily, its more about having lost the rest.

To be fair- modern society doesn’t make it easy either. With constant focus on identity (or multiple identities depending on the platform), you are measured on performance (or maybe more on perceptions of performance), how you present yourself and the image others have of you. That is at least how professionalism works for most people. And Linkedin. And the school collaboration with other parents. So you are constantly trying to give the “right” image, and its exhausting. Saying intelligent things, dressing right (because you often end up looking like a little girl in a dress), using your time right, remembering to constantly update your personal brand and your professional add-ons . Sometimes you do jobs that don’t inspire you as much as you had hoped (What happened to all the kittens?) because you have mouths to feed, student loans to pay or you don’t know what the next step might be. Sometimes your work is inspiring but there are so many politics to take into account that it’s hard to navigate. When somedays all you want to do is just drop everything and not have to answer to anyone. Just be silly and not overthink every decision.

“If you judge a woman as “unprofessionally” dressed, remember that she’s doing the best she can in the face of ambiguous guidelines and the body she’s been given. Remember that she’s attempting to navigate the professional world while striving for the most honorable thing of all — staying true to herself.”

I also think my level of seriousness increased when I moved to Denmark. There is something about the way you sound in different languagues – I think in French I sometimes sound childish, in English – perhaps more serious than I intend to be. In Danish – good but probably never good enough as I’m not a native speaker and so I really try – but I’m probably never funny and end up sounding like a serious person all the time. I hardly speak Icelandic anymore unless it some sort of  weird mix of scandinavian pronounciation and tainted by everyday Danish to my kids. It used to be the language I was the strongest in, so its not without mixed feelings and melancholy I realize that it isn’t anymore and that brings back memories of days when “we were young” [Queue in Adele and a few tears]. Could this serious business thing feel like this because my silliness got lost in translation?

Or was it motherhood? No more time to be childish now that you have kids yourself. Now that is some serious stuff –   getting a job – keeping a job and trying not to mess up your boys childhood while you’re at it! (Good luck with that). Everything becomes so practical and all day long, serious decisions need to be made. Can’t always blame it on parenthood though. You dont have to buy into the perfect mother myth. Granted, you need to give kids stability. But in parenthood there are also plenty of opportunities to be more silly. And playful. I think I am finally coming to terms with that being a mother isn’t always about being serious and/or educative. Sometimes you can say silly things and do whatever you feel like, also with your kids- without it damaging them forever (Am I taking them to this music festival so we can party all night long? I mean, they’re almost 10!). Most of the time, we have no clue what we are doing anyway. So why so serious?

I have been thinking about whether this is about being female?  The structures might simply not be built so it’s easy to be your authentic self. Can I be “me” all the time, with all that goes with it when pre-defined structures don’t fit my thoughts, my needs or my style?

It sometimes feels like my real full time job is this: not letting my full time job consume me. To worry, to perform, to impress, to be so goddam serious. I constantly remind myself that life is also had to have fun. To talk more icelandic, to be more silly, to play with kittens, to stay up late, to laugh, to be wrong, to ask stupid questions (not the correct journalistic ones), to tease my kids, to smile more, to watch Zack efron movies – (see post below) and to embrace it all. And dont give a rats a** about what others think.

And then its monday again, and I roll up to the company carpark, wearing a blazer and matching heels…

platform shoes

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Adults – are you one?

I’ve been thinking about seriousness lately. How serious I have become as an adult and how uncool that is.  And before you know it – WHAM – the iconization of adulthood pops up in a movie on the TV screen: Neighbours. It’s a movie about young parents who live next to a frat house – trying to stay cool, but are anything but. Judging by the cover, I probably never would not have chosen this movie if my mind would have been turned on, but like so often, after a long day of work- a few hours of the kids being all over & close to ripping each other apart (“I said no more shooting with the nerf gun inside!!”)  – and after putting them to bed, my will only gets me to the sofa and I’m too braindead to make any kindof decision so this movie seemed just as good as any.  It’s actually pretty annoying that Rose Byrne, that delivers a great performance in this film, isn’t even on the cover:

Neighbors (2014)

(Spoiler alert: its not about two dudes! Gosh… You would have thought we have had this conversation already. -> check out The Headless Women of Hollywood.  Yes its a thing:

The more I think about it actually, the more it pisses me off!

The cover should have been more like:

(And I have a feeling Rose might be annoyed at it too, as she says she would much rather play the guy in all those scripts she get sent – as they get all the funny bits.)

The movie actually captures this ‘fun =young’ vs ‘parenthood=seriousness’ vibe. The parents are not supposed to be cool. Except that they are super supportive of each other, have sex all the time and handle parenthood like aces – so if that isn’t cool, I don’t know what is. They haven’t given up on silliness and the mom is not everyone’s mom like in every other movie- she also gets to be stupid and funny- so hurray for that. Nevermind that she doesn’t seem to work and that the father has an invisible job at an invisible place. It’s not a perfect movie – but it addresses things I can identify with.  And then, I just “happened” to see Neighbours 2:

sisters.jpg vs. movieposter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffice to say that some stereotypes get totally busted in that one. .. especially among the sorority sisters (left). Again the movie poster could have reflected that – but again – its about 2 dudes (right)

To sum up : adulthood feels a bit like this:

silly wind GIF

…the wind keeps blowing but you keep on going.

Like asking yourself constantly if you’re doing the right thing. Are you too hard on your kids? Are you too loose on their Ipad use? Do you hug them enough? Are you performing well enough at work? Can you really afford to live the life you like? Did you remember to tell the hubby you love him? (You think about it often but forget to say it). And what about your parents – neglecting them much? Jeez, you just forgot it was your best friends birthday last week – do you send her a text now or just ignore it? Do you look like a tramp in those clothes? Will your lack of will to do sports mean you won’t live as long? Why did you eat cake at 2 pm (and 9pm)? When was the last time you went to a party & danced? Oh, well it’s not like you’re gonna go tonight, its like 10 pm! Know what I mean?

And then, you’re almost 39, inspired by a movie with Jack Efron.

What happened?

At least – no one will accuse me of being miss serious watching that movie.

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International Women’s Day 18 – the facts

What's "happy" about women's position in the world?

Who do I give my congratulations to?

This week, we passed the yearly “celebration” of women by focusing on the progress and the challenges women face in the world today.

A day that often highlights dissatisfying numbers like:

👎Unequal pay: The global pay gap stands at 23 % between men and women. Even kids get that it is messed up:

👎Low numbers of women in government:  22,8% of all national parliamentarians are women. In Denmark, 31,8% of local politicians are women (Out of 98 mayors, 14 are women).

“As of January 2017, only 18.3 per cent of government ministers  [in the world] were women; the most commonly held portfolio by women ministers is environment, natural resources, and energy, followed by social sectors, such as social affairs, education and the family.” UNWOMEN.ORG

👎Few women in leadership positions: In Denmark, 27% of  business leaders are women, the lowest in the Nordic countries (Sweden is on 40%, Iceland 38 and the OECD average of female leaders in business is 31%).

👎Violence against women is incredibly high: 1 of 3 women (35%) have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime (half of women killed in the US are killed by their romantic partner)

👎Women’s activities (like sports) keep being down prioritized in the media: 2% of national newspaper sport coverage in the UK is dedicated to women’s sport. 3,6 % of elite sports trainers in Denmark are women.

👎Women are under-represented in Tech: 16,7% of ICT (Information and Communication technology) specialists in the EU are women

👎Stories of women are not being recognized: 4,2 % of film directors in the US were women from 2007- 2016 (its getting better though), 10% of screenwriters are women and 29% of protagonists in Hollywood are women. In 2015 books by women made up less than 20% of books reviewed in the New York Review of Books (which is funny because they are just as popular on the best selling list).

It’s also a day where we quote women & celebrate remarkable women in the press: Berlingske newspaper in Denmark introduced 8 portraits of women pioneers on the 8th of March:

8womenIts great to read about the first woman to climb Mount Everest, the first woman Michelin chef, the first woman newsreader, the first (and only) woman primeminister or the first woman fighter pilot – but why do we get these stories only once a year?

Because we cant do that every day? I’m always a bit annoyed on this day – because then I see what the world could be like everyday if we did focus on the plight of women.

It’s not ok that women get killed by their partners. It’s not ok that women – who represent half of the population – are not represented equally in government, in leadership or are part of those that design our world. We need more women inventors because we need more of the female perspective. The world is not designed for women  and advertising sure as hell forgets pretty easily that half of potential customers are not dudes:

“Women dominate consumer spending because they buy for so many people within their immediate circles – yet …advertising rarely reflects women’s perspectives or needs, and so women have learned to rely on the recommendations of other women.”   The silent rise of the female driven economy

We need more female stories (like these inspirational movies about extraordinary women)  & female values in leadership (that men can also possess). According to the Harvard Business Review, there are clear differences in leading styles and 4 competencies can be associated with women’s success in top leadership positions:

 “courage, risk-taking, resilience, and managing ambiguity”

There are plenty of ways to highlight gender equality. The french newspaper Libération did this on March 8 2018:

Libe

Price for the paper: 2 euros for women / 2,50 euros for men

A museum in Norway lowered the price of entry for women to illustrate the unfairness of the pay gap.

So, is there really a need for a day to highlight these things? Yes but here is a revolutionary idea:

Maybe more days could be used to do exactly that – instead of waiting for the next 8th of March. Because we are making progress in some areas – but no wonder it happens so slow since we only use 1 day out of 365 to focus on the problems.

And here the answer to one of the most common question:

INTMENSDAY

If you have this question, this site has the answer

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Wan’t a reminder to be happy? We’re all gonna die.

What is a meaningful life? I’m really asking because I would like to know.  It’s funny that no matter how positive other people view you or your accomplishments, if you are in selfdoubt, all the praise in the world wont change a thing. We should know by now that no matter how far you go, how proud your loved ones may be, or the money your are earning;  if you are not content with what you are doing, if you can’t find meaning in it- it’s unlikely to make you happy, truly happy.

Happiness is such an overrated concept though – or misunderstood. People who have lived through the worst of things are capable of enjoying truly happy moments…

…and others that lull around life, never really experiencing trauma or real pain might never really appreciate joy in the little things. Are they really happy? Is Happiness even real, or is it just a combination of moments that depend on the how you view them and what you compare them to?

I’ve heard that morticians often have great satisfaction in their job. Somehow they are so close to death, taking care of the dead and their families that they are constantly reminded of why life is worth living. Don’t despair, you dont need to become one to get more appreciative of your life- try downloading the app  WeCroak on your phone, it’s sole purpose is to send you reminders a few times a day:  “Don’t forget, you are going to die”. Cheerful. But actually, it seems that this is exactly what we need – help to put things into perspective as we get sucked in to more  “knowledge” we don’t know what to do with, technology addiction and time away from our thoughts. In Bhutan, it is believed that you need to think about death 5 times a day to be happy:

“Rich people in the West, they have not touched dead bodies, fresh wounds, rotten things. This is a problem. This is the human condition. We have to be ready for the moment we cease to exist.”

It’s so true. We don’t talk about death, we don’t see images of the dead and we rather not think about it. Except that I do think about it. Sometimes with fear, but mostly as a fact. The fact that I am going to die, that my loved ones also will, that I could have had a 14 year old daughter at this point and that we all leave something behind when we pass away, some perhaps more than others. I can’t always avoid the thoughts – but lord knows I try.

As Denmark mourned the passing of the Queen’s husband, Prince Henry de Montpezat last month, I though about his death (and the Danes’ reaction to it) but also his life. I though about how he lived his life – in spite of some things being hard (like being accepted in his adoptive country – sidenote – has any foreigner truly made it in Denmark anyway?) and other things being so easy (like having time to write poemes, to create sculptures, to play music). There was something so inspiring about the way he enjoyed life, food, wine, people, the curiosity he brought to whatever he was undertaking and the thoughts/creative outlets that he then could express himself with, being a poet, a thinker, an artist and a musician. It made me think about all the things we fill our lives with that have nothing to do with that. (Netflix, rutine work, thoughts about money, materialism, envy and unhappy lives where we do things we think other people want us to do and can’t find meaning in it all). I’m not saying not to ever watch TV – but that suddenly 10 years may have gone by and it’s hard to pin point what the time went into. In the last 10 years, I’ve had kids, married, moved & learned to live in another country, found & lost myself, started and ended several jobs, keep continuously asking myself if I am on the right professional path, made friends, prioritized my time differently, bought a house and made a home but somehow I wonder how much creativity I allowed in all of this and if a life without creativity has meaning. Do you need meaning to be happy? Because I do enjoy happy moments when they arise (“Will this be a moment I will look back upon and think: Here I was truly happy” Then let me be happy now.) When are these moments? Mostly in the sun, with those I love and often near the sea. Seldom on a deadline. Hardly ever on a plane. Probably not looking at my phone.

Many years ago I read an article of the The top 5 regrets of the dying, collected by a nurse working in pallatative care. They’ve been on the internet for a long time so you have probably seen them in some shape or form. They are a good reminder when you feel you’re in need of guidance, when something feels ouf of place: top-5-regrets-of-dying

It might be corny but it’s true – I often think of the last one – are we letting ourselves be happy? Or are we our own blocker? Although my mission in life seems hard to figure out Is it to be the mother of my sons?  To influence younger people? To do the best I can? To learn? Or is there any meaning to it all? according to David Bowie, perhaps not:

On the day of execution, on the day of execution
only women kneel and smile ah-ah, ah-ah
at the center of it all, at the center of it all
your eyes, your eyes

“Blackstar” David Bowie

Perhaps the only true goal of life is to not have too many regrets at the end of it all.

You can have all good intentions but sometimes it’s just off. And sometimes there’s little you can do about it. I don’t think we have fully understood the biological aspects of our moods or how we are affected by our environment (some more than others). Being able to say “Pyt” (Danish) or “Þetta reddast” (Icelandic) or “C’est la vie” (French) is sometimes just as good an action as any. And then (hopefully) another day will come.

I know I’m gonna die someday, so in the big scheme of things, there are more important things to life than wonder endlessly over whether you’ve done a good job or not. If you haven’t, it’s not, literally, the end of the world. Unless you’re Donald Trump.

***More to read***

BBC Bhutans Dark secret to happiness
http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150408-bhutans-dark-secret-to-happiness

The Atlantic When Death pings https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/when-death-pings/546587/

The Guardian Top five regrets of the Dying https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying

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10 things

 

Here are 10 things I would like my sons to learn.

1. You are not the most important person in the world

You might be to me and your dad- but there are others out there, that can always add value to your experiences

2. Its ok to make mistakes

Its terrifying believing that everything you do has to be perfect. Plus it doesn’t make room for learning as it only makes people feel inadequate & sets unrealistic expectations

3. Learn to read

Reading is the basis of all knowledge. Learn to read and you can learn everything else. Because once you can read – you can loose yourself in the magic of books, when times are tough or when you need a good escape – plus its necessary to navigate in the world.

4. See, hear and read female-centric stories

So you can dive into worlds different than yours. Its so important to appreciate the differences we all come with. It’s not always easy, sometimes it might feel easier to stay in your comfort zone but the world needs more people that open their eyes and have open hearts

5. Be a good listener

Everyone has a story. It’s easy to believe yours is the most important but we are all interconnected – and to connect , all you need to do is listen- really listen to what people are saying.

6. Use technology wisely

Its too late for me- I try but you do. Like my dear colleague Roxana used to say – give these kids an introduction to technology, a real life challenge to solve and you will be amazed to see what they can come up with

7. Behaving online is just as important as behaving offline

In regards to others, but also in what you like, in what you share, in terms of your values or entertainment. Respect others – also on platforms that don’t reward that behavior

8. Be emotional and don’t be afraid of showing emotions

Don’t be afraid to put yourself in the shoes of others. You can feel their joy and you can feel their pain. But you also need to understand your own feelings and how you feel. You can’t expect others to open to you if you don’t open to them. Be honest

9. Respect No’s

Not everyone will be on board for all your wildest ideas- I’m sure many of them will be good but some will be less. Don’t go over other people’s boundaries and clarify where your own boundaries lie.

10. Be adventerous

Life is boring if you never dare. Take chances, meet people, travel, explore & remember to dance, often. But please don’t join the army

WP_20170602_18_16_52_Rich

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We need to talk about education

To girls everywhere:

RyanGosling

 

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February 16, 2018 · 07:00

I’m back!

 

smalltalk

Talking about twisted, agent Mulder and Scully are not the only ones that can make a comeback! Ok, its been 2 years since my last post but it’s not like I stopped having opinions. My Twitter feed, countless facebook & Linkedin posts can attest to that (says the girl, not without a hint of shame in her voice). Yes, I have been busy but not necessarily with the right things. Sure, I’ve bought a house with the hubby, the boys have started school but to tell you the truth, I gave up on this blog when I joined the company. I’m not sure why exactly, but I think I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to write as freely as I wanted. That’s what a big job can do to you, but my fears were baseless. If the tagline of our campaigns can be “Come as you are, Do what you love”, I’m sure there is space for a feminist who loves writing

Feminist GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

There are so many topics I want to address in more than 280 characters or that cannot fit in a facebook update – I want to write about power, leadership, death and about miscarriages, about joy and injustices, about powerful women (and powerful men… but the female stories need to be written), about things I talk to my girlfriends about, about things I see and about politics, education and emotions. But  what I am interested in most of all is gender equality on all fronts.

Its also funny to revisit my drafts of posts that were never to be:

OldTopics

So much has happened in this short amount of time, technology makes alot of things easier, but also many things much harder. There is only a limited amount of time in the day to have conversations, so why not use some of my time in the digital space to continue, reflect or recount those conversations?

I also realized that I hadn’t started this blog to save the world (hey younger me: Ambitious much?). Then I wrote to save the reputation of feminism (still a worthy cause) but today I also write to save myself. Writing makes me happy. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that you need to do more of the things that make you happy!happy

 

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