She probably slept in a little that morning, jumping out of bed only when the sun broke through the curtains to begin a day that was unlike any other day. It would start off in the usual ways – the quick shower, a breakfast of eggs or toast or cereal, possibly reading the newspaper. She would change into her favorite running gear, lace up her shoes, and rush out of her hotel, preparing to arrive early for a short warm-up before the marathon began. By noon all the runners would be at the line, and fortunately, no one would pay her much attention. At least, she would not notice any aggressive glances nor would she hear any comments from any of the other runners.
Suddenly, the starting gun would go off, and her nerves would quickly be consumed by a sense of competition, a feeling of challenge. She would run the first few miles with little difficulty – in fact, she was the main attraction for photographers for a mile or two – when her biggest fear would occur: an official had recognized that a woman was running the Boston Marathon. And in 1967, women were not allowed to participate in marathons. In fact, very few sports were open to women in that decade – only 4 different sporting events were offered to our gender in the 1964 Olympic Games. But for Kathrine Switzer, this was an instance to prove that there was more to women than what men, than what society, thought.
She ended up finishing that race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, thanks to a group of fellow men runners, including her then-boyfriend, who protected her from that official trying to stop her from finishing the race. She became the first woman ever to competitively race in and finish a marathon and, in the process, became a figure of the women’s rights movement whose story is still told today.
The past 100 years have propelled women to a state of equality that is unparalleled in the history of the human race. In this time, not only have we won the right to vote and compete in athletic events, but we’ve given ourselves the opportunities that men have had for ages – to work outside the home, earn our own wages, be a voice in decision-making. And yet we’re still facing an upward battle. The reason?
We tend to stand in our own way. I recently came across a speech given by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, to the 2011 graduates of Barnard College, an all-women university. In this speech (don’t worry, ladies, I will talk more on Sheryl in a later post), she states how even after all of the gains we’ve made, women still tend to take a back seat in the workplace, volunteering to sit on the sidelines – or even take themselves out of the game completely – instead of fully participating. And it’s a shame considering we have so much to offer – viewpoints and ideas that could possibly take our businesses (and our lives) to the next level if not for our lack of confidence. It was this kind of thinking that really spurred me to start this blog.
I went back and forth about whether to actually write the blog. Would this be worthwhile? Would anyone even read it? Again, that self-doubt that is so inherent in many of us was manifesting itself in me. And then I thought, if anything that I post helps one person, then it would be worth it, right? Worth the fear of failure, worth the time and energy to manage a blog, worth those extra hours researching topics – all in order to give women the confidence (or at least the information) to deal with a topic that many of us tend to leave to male gender: Money. (If you guessed killing spiders, that was also a legitimate answer – but I don’t mind leaving that to them.)
I think that many of us think that understanding how to manage our money or (*scary word alert*) invest it is a mountain that is too high to tackle; so, instead, we leave our decisions about the money we work so hard for, the money we earn, to someone else, thereby giving up our chance to be in the decision process. We hand it over trustingly, and cross our fingers in hopes that they don’t screw us over. And why? Because we think finances are too complicated?
This blog will be a place to discuss money issues that we, as women, all face in our teens/20s/30s, my successes and failures in managing my money as I travel through adulthood, as well as providing insight into what exactly a Roth IRA is or how to create a truly rock solid budget. I want to take away some of the fear that many of us have in dealing with our finances and replace it with knowledge and a sense that we are not alone in our struggles – we all have instances where maybe we shouldn’t have bought those über cute high heels or went out to eat 5 times in one week. I hope along the way you will share your stories with me and the other readers as well, so that we, as a community, can become an educated force, unafraid of tackling whatever comes our way.
So, if you read this all the way through, you have finally made it to the end. Thanks for taking the time to check out the very first post of my blog - hope you stay tuned for the next one!
*For more information on Kathrine's story, please visit her website at www.kathrineswitzer.com.