The voices of women have historically been muffled by the patriarchy so to be a woman and have your voice be heard is a revolutionary act, even in present days.

 

With that in mind, we launched Making HerStory, a series where we amplify women’s voices and share their story with the world, hopefully to inspire change.

 

These selected women creators share their struggles, how they overcame them and eventually, grow to become the inspiring individuals they are today.

 

With hopes that their voices may reach the hearts of young women everywhere, we believe that their insights may open up possibilities for our readers who dare to dream.

 

Read on to discover what these three artists, and an activist have to say about their experiences—

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As a woman, what are the kinds of struggles you have faced in your everyday life or career?

 

There were a lot of rules set for me that my brother didn’t have to adhere to as strictly, as being a girl meant more safety risks. It led to me missing out on certain experiences, and feeling left out sometimes.

 

I would’ve liked to go to more concerts, road trips, and art events like my other friends did, I think it would’ve helped shape my creative journey a little differently.

 

I feel like patriarchy is still very prominent in local households and societies, and growing up before even being conscious of this system really affected the way I act around, expect from, and view both myself AND men in personal and workspaces.

 

If I’m not mindful about it, I’m still prone to being very timid when it comes to speaking up and expecting men to always have the final solution.

 

 

How did you overcome it? Were there specific moments or decisions that helped you?

 

I looked back at those experiences and gave myself time to accept that I can’t change anything about them now, but I can learn from them and perform better self-reflection.

 

For example, because there were times I was told I couldn’t accomplish something, I developed a strong urge to prove my capabilities, so I think in a way that’s driven me to try my best in everything I do, and that’s what I did.

 

For the times I had to stay home, I eventually got so tired of being upset that I used my spare time as an opportunity to explore art and various crafts, and I think that’s helped me until today to always see the silver lining in challenging times.

 

 

What advice would you tell your younger self and the young women who are reading this?

 

If it doesn’t hurt anyone, don’t let people tell you that you’re not capable of doing something before you can try, and don’t let it bring you down!

 

Try new things, have fun, and be open to the possibility of failing or succeeding. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone!

 ***

 

 

As a woman, what are the kinds of struggles you have faced in your everyday life or career?

 

My body image as a woman has definitely been a struggle throughout my adolescence and young adulthood.

 

I’ve always felt I had to look and behave a certain way as a woman because of all the standards that society sets for us. It’s always about who’s prettier and skinnier and the constant pitting women against each other.

 

 

How did you overcome it? Were there specific moments or decisions that helped you?

 

I think it’s still an ongoing struggle for me. However, nowadays I see so much more women pushing back on harmful societal standards, and it has empowered me little by little!

 

I see so much more representation in the media and I really appreciate this change. I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there’s no one correct way to be a woman. Everyday I’m learning to love myself more and more.

 

 

What advice would you tell your younger self and the young women who are reading this?

 

It gets better. Never stop pushing back. Educate yourself and others slowly. And know that you will always, always be enough.

 ***

 

 

As a woman, what are the kinds of struggles you faced in your everyday life or career?

 

Growing up as a Taiwanese-American girl, I struggled a lot with people telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my life, especially by male figures (even ones I wasn’t close with).

 

Whether it was being told directly that I shouldn’t be pursuing my own passions or being told indirectly about how women shouldn’t wear revealing clothes, I’ve always felt like I had no right to speak up to them because my voice felt really small.

 

This continues to shape me into adulthood, and without realization, it affected every interaction I had. It affected the way I handled clients, the way I talked to my friends, and the lack of confidence I felt within myself and in my own opinions.

 

I’ve always felt like I had to play the lower hand, give in to everyone else and what they wanted, instead of what I wanted.

 

 

How did you overcome it? Were there specific moments or decisions that helped you?

 

If I’m being honest, I still am trying to overcome it. I’ve only recently started feeling strongly about being more confident in myself and my voice because I was just too tired of constantly being talked over.

 

There were days where I could only lay in bed overthinking about all the things I’ve said in the past, whether or not it offended anyone, or if I could've said more.

 

These days, I try to combat those anxieties by talking about topics I’m passionate about when I feel the spark of emotion. I try to build my confidence by addressing them through my vlogs little by little.

 

I definitely think they’re helping me build my confidence in my voice and my opinions because it is a space where I can practice and be myself entirely.

 

 

What advice would you tell your younger self and the young women who are reading this?

 

I would tell 15-year-old me to try her very best to fight for what she wants and believes in, even if some of her dreams are unconventional.

 

It will be really hard, and she will most definitely cry (I know myself too well), but she needs to try and build that confidence for herself.

 

Being submissive and hiding behind people’s backs will not make her stronger. I want to tell her to not believe everything that everyone says and to think for herself for once.

 

Most of all, I want to tell her that she is strong and capable of so many things. She just hasn’t found herself yet.

 ***

 

 

As a woman, what are the kinds of struggles you faced in your everyday life or career?

 

As a young woman in the social sector, I have become absolutely tired of being underestimated when engaging with external male stakeholders.

 

When I worked as a recruiter, I noticed that during career fairs, my younger male interns are often assumed as the leader, over me!

 

When I worked as a fundraiser, men kept talking over me or tried to mansplain to me on why my data points and/or experiences are wrong.

 

As a woman in such people-facing roles, I am expected to be constantly polite and submissive anyways, and it can be emotionally taxing to be invalidated like this constantly and have to pretend to be okay with it.

 

 

How did you overcome it? Were there specific moments or decisions that helped you?

 

It helps that most of my colleagues and managers are women, due to the fact that the social sector is a women-dominated field.

 

I am grateful for the space that my community offers me to confide in them, and I have learnt from this collective how to be more assertive in standing up for myself, my experiences and the knowledge I carry with me.

 

I am not afraid to be a little sassy sometimes and ‘offboard’ people when I realise they are insistent in underestimating me.

 

Whilst I recognise the need to maintain decorum when engaging with external stakeholders, I am not afraid to challenge back (in a professional way, of course) to ensure that I am still being respected, as I should be.

 

 

What advice would you tell your younger self and the young women who are reading this?

 

I love this quote by the late US Representative, John Lewis, which goes, “Get in good trouble. Make necessary trouble.”

 

This helps me find my courage in my advocacy work, but I trust that it applies to my personal challenges as a woman too.

 

Young women even being authentically themselves can be seen as radical sometimes, which is why I think we should be bold in challenging the status quo, so as to not dim or make small our unique personalities, intelligence, strengths, and experiences!

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We’d like to thank these women for taking time out of their busy schedules to talk about their challenges and growth in pursuit of their goals.

 

We hope that you feel inspired by their answers, and strive to reach for your full potential. If you liked this article, check out Part 2 where we interviewed more women on this topic.

 

Do you also have a story about your challenges as a woman? Let us know in the comments!

 

Thank you to Chee Zhen for this writeup!

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