How to be a fierce female (ASKING FOR A FRIEND)

How to be a fierce female

Illustration by Chris Morris

Fierce women deserve fierce treatment. Welcome to our all-female issue featuring page after page of inspiring women in our neighborhood.

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A common theme in the interviews is advice these women would give to their younger selves: “Trust your instincts,” they said. “Don’t be so afraid.” 

It’s the kind of advice you’d give your daughter — and expect her to heed — without listening to the advice yourself.

A Dallas Morning News colleague gave me this illustration 22 years ago. (Can’t you tell by the large size of the computer?) It was a work-place baby shower gift when I was expecting my first child, a daughter. I look like a confident editor in a male-dominated newsroom clueless about the work-life balancing act I was about to undertake.

I had practiced my daughter’s name while fake-answering the phone to make sure her name would sound like an authoritative CEO someday. But I didn’t anticipate that she would frequently be the last kid at after-school care. Or that I would cry in my mini van after delivering a dinner to a “family in need,” only to find a nanny with a bathed child at the door while my family of three waited at home for me — a mom with no plans on what to feed my own dependents for dinner. 

Luckily, I found equality in a home with a beloved husband, a frequent refrain from our featured fierce women.

I sometimes collapsed under the weight of it all.

My daughter, now a rising senior in college, confidently tells me that her Society of Women Engineers’ advisor recommends not to marry until she’s 30 for the optimum career path. 

Life can surprise you.

On the journey to this issue, Roslyn Dawson Thompson, CEO of the Women’s Foundation, handed me the book, “What I Told My Daughter: Lessons from Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women.” 

“As someone who has built a career on developing great storytellers, I believe every woman has an experience that can inspire and enlighten others,” writes editor Nina Tassler. 

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Here’s some of my favorite advice from the book:

Always be yourself.

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Know that you can succeed but that you can fail without being a failure. 

We become the women we are meant to be.

Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, says it all: “When push comes to shove,” Albright wrote, “family always comes first.”

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