Believe it or not, normally I like to plan what I’m going to write weeks in advance. I didn’t have a chance to do that this time, so what follows is going to be an absolute brain dump that I’m going to, in some way, pass off as a post about International Women’s Day.
As I have absolutely nothing planned for this post, I’m going to take this opportunity to recognise just some of the important women in my life, and I would encourage you to think about the women in your life too. Who are they? How do they make your life better? Have you told them recently how much you appreciate them?
Obviously, there’s my mum. I literally wouldn’t exist without her! I only realise now that I haven’t said this to her before, but she’s an absolute inspiration. She was a year or so younger than I am now when she was diagnosed with a chronic illness. I cannot even begin to imagine how that must have been for her. I’ve always assumed I took my stubbornness from my dad, but now I think it might be my mum! She will NOT let an illness get the better of her and she puts everyone’s needs before her own. She also probably won’t read this, but my dad will. Dad – can you tell mum I wrote about her and that I think she’s incredibly strong and an inspiration? Cheers!
Another one that’s been around a long time is my sister. My beautiful, funny, creepy, thoughtful, caring sister. The creator of three wonderfully hilarious children. Human servant of Seamus the Magnificent Labradoodle. She’s one of those annoying people who really seems to have her shit together. And she always seems to have great lunch ideas, which as an adult, is something I really struggle with. I aspire to be that grown up. I remember her telling me when she was going back to work after having her eldest, that she wanted her kids to grow up with a strong work ethic. She’s an excellent role model and the best sister anyone could ask for. She also probably won’t read this.
That leads me on to my nieces! I have two of them, ages 10 and 5. Oh. My. Goodness! These girls are going to grow up to be fiercely strong and independent! I think this is absolutely amazing! When I was a kid I was incredibly shy, and would most likely be found in my room reading the latest Baby-Sitters Club book. These two though… I wish I’d been more like them when I was their age! I’m an incredibly proud auntie and I absolutely love them to bits. They make me laugh SO much! I really cherish my time with them (and their brother!). I’ve only seen them once in the last year and I can’t wait until it’s safe to travel to see them again. They definitely won’t read this.
Now, since we first went into lockdown in March 2020, we obviously haven’t seen as much of other people as we would like (well, for some of us anyway!). I’ve been fortunate enough to have some constants in my life that have helped things to stay reasonably “normal”. humans of code, and work. But let me take you back a little further than that…
In 2018, three women (among plenty of others) made the decision to change careers. They would retrain as Software Developers and enter the “sausage-fest” world of tech. On 23rd April 2019, these same three women would step through the revolving door to a shiny office building and start their new careers together. I was one of those women. It’s been so amazing to be on this journey with Ally and Clare – finding our feet in a new industry together. We’ve shared the highs and lows of thinking we were beginning to grasp what we were doing, to then finding we really didn’t have a clue! The power of strong female friendships can really inspire and motivate. I miss our very serious lunchtime conversations when we’d delve into whatever happened to be on our minds that day. I miss our traditional Vrijmibo at the end of the week, and I miss talking about chopping veg and who’s having what for dinner that night. Clare might read this.
While we’re on the subject of work, it would be rude not to mention our People Manager! Liz, Ally and I are in the same team. Liz is an absolute machine! She knows SO much, she’s incredibly focused and absolutely powers through work. At stand-up every morning, I feel like a cartoon character who’s jaw hits the floor when she rattles off all the things she did the previous day. I don’t think we could have asked for a better mentor and role-model as we take our first step into the tech industry. I imagine it takes great strength and resilience to have been working in a male-dominated industry, where I would assume there have always been some pretty strong characters around. Liz almost definitely won’t read this!
I have so many strong women in my life, and these are just a few of them. Each and every one of them is a gift. Each of them plays a part in the ongoing shaping of who I am. Each of them makes me want to improve myself in some way or another.
I’m going to leave you with this poem…
She is strong, She is fierce,
She is smart, She is tough.
She is happy, She is sad,
She is polished, She is rough.
She is vulnerable, She is insecure,
She doesn’t always know what to do.
But She learns, She grows,
She’s a force to be reckoned with,
She is YOU.
~ Laura Whitmore
To all who observe it, Happy International Women’s Day 2021!
Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.