As a member of the Global Team of 200, I have had the opportunity to write about many interesting organizations– all with the same purpose… to promote and educate about children and women’s issues, world hunger, and education. We have written about Malala who took a stand for her right to go to school. We’ve written about clean and safe water and sanitation. However, this post is different. This post is about me.
Today, March 8th, 2013 is the International Women’s Day. Today is a day to celebrate women around the world. International Women’s Day has been celebrated since the early 1900s. Today, International Women’s Day has become a global event. Thousands of events are held worldwide to celebrate achievements and inspire women.
So, our Global Team of 200 founder challenged us to write a post on what the International Women’s Day means to us.
I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be. There were no limitations to what I could achieve. I was supported to live to my best ability– being a “girl” was never considered a hindrance or an issue. My dad was famous for saying, “Girls can do anything boys can do, and usually better.”
I was my dad’s buddy. We did everything together. A favorite hobby of ours was racing. One evening, in late summer, my dad took me to our local track to watch a friend of his practice on the round track. While we were there, I kept hearing a roar from across the complex. It would be loud for a few seconds then nothing. Then loud for a few seconds. Then nothing.
I finally asked dad what it was.
He replied, “Oh, they are drag racing.”
I said, “Let’s go see.”
I watched one pair of cars go down the track and I was hooked. I wanted to drag race.
My dad never said no. He believed in me. In what I would become.
Over the next couple of years, we began working on an old beater 1979 Malibu that was sitting in our side yard. I rebuilt the engine, with dad’s help. We gutted it. We got it race ready.
The first day at the track, pulling into the staging lanes, I looked around and realized I was the only girl in a sea of men racers. I was teased. I was called names. I was referred to as “honey’ and “toots” and “baby.”
I didn’t care. I was there to race.
I won my first race. And my second. I kept winning throughout the summer. I started making a name for myself at the track. People bet on my round wins. Even the track workers rooted for me.
I qualified for bracket finals that year in my division.
Arriving at bracket finals, I knew I was way out of my league. My dad looked at me and said, “You’ve got this. Now go do it.”
I pulled up to the line. The pre-stage and stage bulbs came on. Green. Green. Green. Go.
I tore down the track as fast as my 15 second 1979 Malibu would go.
I blew across the finish line and held my breath.
My win light glowed.
It’s funny. I don’t race anymore. The transmission locked up in my race car and it ran off the end of the track while my dad was driving. It landed in the river and trashed the tranny and engine. I haven’t raced since. When I started racing, I was the only girl. Now, you go out to our local track on any given weekend, and there is anywhere between 20 and 30 women racing. It wasn’t that long ago I was the only one.
Those lessons have stayed with me though. It has given me self-confidence, decision-making skills, conflict resolution, mechanical skills, and even math skills.
I told this story for a reason…
So, as I sit here and reflect on the International Women’s Day and what it means to me… it means I can do, and be anything I want to be. I am a woman. I am fully capable of being what I want. I am proud. I am caring. I am compassionate. I am brave. I am daring. I am me.
I am me.
I don’t have to fit into a mold. I don’t have to be a stereotype. I can do and be what I want. When I want. How I want. I don’t have to accept the word, “no.”
So, to me, International Women’s Day means the freedom and ability to be me.
Women have had a bum rap through the years. But, look where we are today. Where will we be in 20 years?
International Women’s Day is me. And you. And all women around the world.
A day to celebrate ourselves. Our achievements. Our uniqueness. Our lives. Our very souls.