By Danielle Spitz, IATG Contributor June 14, 2016
Mediocrity is not a goal I tend to set for myself. My agenda has always been focused on straight A’s and maintaining a high GPA. In my head, I often repeat the mantra, “if you are not going to succeed, then why bother trying?” While this kind of self-motivating, triumph-inspiring attitude can foster success, it can also detract from the value of failure and establish an unhealthy aspiration of perfection.
The ability to distinguish between achievement and perfection has been completely skewed for women.
Because we are constantly concerned about competing with other women, we are taught that sticking to what we know best and coloring inside the lines is the sure way to become successful. And if we veer off-track and attempt to break the status quo, we are seen as intruders in a man’s world of innovation and prosperity.
Consequently, women, myself included, often shy away from foreign opportunities that require bravery and may end in failure, as failure is simply not an option. At least that's what I believed until I watched Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, discuss the impact of teaching girls to be perfect and teaching boys to be brave in her TED talk.
Saujani highlighted, for example, that the issue of underrepresentation of women working in STEM fields, is not a question of women’s abilities in math and science, but is due to women’s tendencies to be overly cautious as a means of avoiding failure.
By no means is failure a welcoming or inviting concept, and that’s why I have done my best to evade it.
The room for women in the world of success always seemed so limited, causing me to believe that there was no tolerance for mistakes. Boys on the other hand are excited by a challenge and seize every opportunity to improve themselves with bravery and audacity.
Taking this viewpoint as inspiration, I was motivated to step out of my comfort zone and accept bravery and failure as cornerstones of every success story. In the eyes of society, a woman being brave is often confused with irrationality and impracticality. However, bravery can manifest in an action as simple as raising your hand in class even if you are not sure of the answer, or applying for a position knowing that you don't meet every single one of the qualifications.
The sooner we accept that bravery is not off-limits to girls, the sooner we, as capable, strong, and unique individuals, can unlock all of our veiled potential.
Let’s get brave! Go out today and do something a little courageous. Ask for a much needed raise, talk to your crush, or simply try something new.
High school student Danielle Spitz is an aspiring journalist. She writes for her school newspaper and of course IATG! She loves reading, writing, running, binge watching anything on Netflix, shopping, and contributing to a world in which women build each other up and receive the respect they deserve.