Breaking away from the mold, even into the unexpected

A black woman sits on a cement barrier in an urban setting, looking into the camera.

Many women in their lifetime find that they feel expected to conform to a certain mold, whether that be a homemaker, a stay-at-home mom, or even a mother who has to balance work and child rearing at the same time. The same women may oftentimes view this destined outlook as more confining than anything else, especially when they’ve had their sights set on a different path since they can remember.


Fifty years ago, a woman working a full-time job might have been a ludicrous idea — but now, it’s more common than ever, and even the weight of the stigma against the working woman is slowly beginning to fade. While many still choose to work from home while raising kids, or don’t work at all while being a full-time nurturer, the fact that women have more options and feel comfortable choosing between all of them is a victory for everyone.


But for others, the choice isn’t always so easy — so what can they do to ease the blow? Particularly when breaking into a field that’s particularly dominated by men, or perhaps breaking away from a mold that’s the norm in a family, a woman’s leap of faith into the unknown takes a huge amount of courage.


Pursuing what you want, not what you’re told

Perhaps you wish to enter a field that’s already ripe with other women chasing their dreams, like positions in the medical field — or, maybe you’d flourish in another sector, like business or engineering. Whichever it is, wherever your interests lie, it’s important to remember that being a woman is nothing to hold you back.


Particularly in fields thought to be more “manly,” like the police force or a blue-collar job, keeping in mind that just because you’re a woman doesn’t make you any less qualified, physically capable, or just not cut out for it — although you may face those generalizations.


Many people might be surprised to know that some fields in those “manly” jobs like the previously mentioned police officer are actually dominated by women. For example, in a survey of probation officers, the Boston Globe reported that 57 percent of probation officers were women, compared to 43 percent being men. Whatever happened to police officers being a man’s job? I’ll tell you — it was left behind 50 years ago.


The fact of the matter is, you shouldn’t be picking your career or lifestyle based on what other people want of you, you’re doing it because it’s what you want — whether you’re a police officer or a stay-at-home mom.


Pursuing what you want, even if it’s what you’re told

On the flip side, it’s important to remember that there’s also nothing wrong, or un-feminist, or “submissive” about joining a field that’s typified by women, either. Want to be a teacher? A mother? A nurse? Do it. Chase it, become it. The whole point is that you’re pursuing what you want because it’s your dream — and if that aligns with what your family wants of you too, then more power to you.


That also means if you study a field that’s less populated by women, it’s not your job to fill the gap. That responsibility isn’t on your shoulders. So, if you get a degree in marketing but don’t want to work for a big corporate enterprise, there’s nothing wrong with using your skills in a different market, like non-profit charities or even things like sustainable energy.


You could get a degree in psychology/counseling, and jump into that probationary officer role mentioned earlier, too. You don’t have to work with kids or families, or even take part in one of the many therapy-related fields that involves you sitting with a clipboard in an office — unless you want to. Unless that’s your passion. That’s the whole point!


Even if you’re not faced with a “women aren’t commonly a part of this field” dilemma, if it’s more of a “counsellors don’t usually use their skills to be writers,” kind of dilemma, none of that matters. It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do for yourself, and the people you want to help.


Living your life for yourself and no one else

There are a lot of reasons you’re so flippin’ epic, and doing what you want in life because of your skills, interests, and desire to serve other people and the community should be added generously to that list. Never feel ashamed for making your life your own, for doing exactly what you once answered as a kid when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” no matter how outrageous that answer might have been.

Maybe you’ve stuck to the same plan, maybe lots of things have changed and what you’re seeking now is completely different, but the most important thing is you’re living your own life for yourself, and not to please anyone else. As a woman, an employee, a mother, a friend, a person — you deserve it.

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