When I was 11 years old, the 2008 election was in full swing. I was in 6th grade at the time, and I remember the excitement and interest I felt towards talking about the election with my 6th grade classmates.
What did we, young children, know about politics?
Honestly close to nothing.
Before going further, let me remind you that in 2008 Hillary Clinton was running against Barack Obama. Now, this was before the Benghazi scandal. This was before the email scandal. This was before her easy-to-understand major political scandals and controversies. That being stated, we were too young and ignorant to attack Hillary on her policies or anything of actual substance or worth. In 6th grade, we children genuinely knew of very little to attack Hillary on.
But, we all KNEW that she was a woman. That was easy for us to see and understand. And even in 6th grade, we understood the often times unspoken but learned idea that female leaders are emotional and unfit to lead and that male leaders are rational and fit to lead. And so, we attacked her with sexism.
I will never forget listening to boys tell me, time and time again, how “We can’t have a woman in office - she’ll be too emotional and cry and not be able to handle war. We need a strong man”. Or, “If we have a woman in office, she’ll be wayyyyy too emotional and blow something up. We can’t have that”.
I was 11 years old. I don’t remember what I said to them, or quite frankly if I said anything at all. But I do remember feeling utterly discouraged and quieted.
Though we were young, we already knew that emotion was associated with women, and that emotion = bad.
Today, I want to defend emotion.
I am an intuitive, emotional person, who leads with my heart. When I feel something, I feel it strongly and I KNOW. I act largely based on my emotion, and I make decisions largely based on how I feel.
And BECAUSE I have embraced my emotion (not in spite of it!!), I have become a semi-successful 19 year old female.
Someone asked me yesterday why I do what I do. Here’s my answer:
There’s literally no way I couldn’t. My ACHES for young girls who are held back from reaching their full potentials because of something like BODY IMAGE and SELF-ESTEEM! My heart gets SO sad and frustrated when I think about all of the individuals who are too scared to reach out for mental health help! And I feel like my heart is literally going to break in two pieces when I think about unhealthy and abusive relationships!
On the other hand, my head is always engaged in a battle with overwhelming fear and consuming self-doubt. My head tells me things like ‘You don’t know enough to write a book - you’re not qualified enough’. My head tells me things like ‘A teenage girl shouldn’t be taking up so much space’. My head tells me things like ‘Your efforts will never be enough’...and so on and so forth.
Well, it’s a good thing my heart doesn’t always listen to my head.
If I denied my emotion, all of the work I’m doing simply would not be getting done. I would be held back by the thoughts in my head.
Yet, the emotion in my heart is what has constantly pushed me forward. This aching and emotion is what has driven me to co-found a company. This emotion is what has driven me to publish an over 300 page BOOK, AND TO PERSIST FOR THREE INCREDIBLY LONG YEARS WITHOUT GIVING UP. In my life, emotion has served as the single most powerful motivating force in my desire to make a positive difference in this world.
Because here’s the thing:
If we only think with our heads, we ignore what sets our hearts on fire. We ignore what inspires us, what makes us compassionate, and a huge part of what makes us human.
Emotion is natural.
Emotion is okay.
And emotion is a wonderful quality to have in a leader.