I contributed the following article to THE DAILY MUSE— a brand new website for smart professional young women!
I have always been who I am. I recognize myself in the 4-year-old girl who loved, even then, wearing black pants and a white shirt. I recognize me in the17-year-old girl who couldn’t wait to leave home and go off to college in Boston and a big world where I could do anything. (This is the age that I still secretly think I am!) I recognize myself as that super-charged woman in her tumultuous 30’s trying to make sense of her marriage, a flourishing career as a TV reporter and critic, and three bouts with cancer.
I am still alive, still married, now a mom, and searching out my second career. So what is it that I would tell my younger self who is still very much me?
I know it has something to do with power. I have always felt that anything was possible, that I could do anything I set my mind to, and that I just had to figure out how. I knew this from the time I was a toddler, and sequestered myself in my bedroom determined not to leave until I had taught myself to tie my own shoes. I can still see myself trying different knots and twists and turns until I finally GOT IT!! I had such a feeling of power and accomplishment.
When I was in my late teens and early 20-’s and heard about “Women’s Lib,” I remember thinking—what do we need that for? I can already do anything I want. I was hardly radical—just on my own trajectory.
Now in my late 50-’s, I have circled back to this notion of female power, and am shocked as I look around at how little power women wield in the world. In the year 2011, women remain underserved, undervalued, underrepresented, and underpaid. I want to help change that.
I look at myself and realize that if I am going to move forward, I need to dig deeper. What is the real source of my own power? I picture myself as a young woman and realize what I would say to that young woman who was so intent on being “a good girl,” doing things perfectly, making sure everything was under control and the best it could be, feeling guilty about the smallest dust-up with a friend, worried about disappointing someone. I know exactly what I would say to that young woman who felt powerful in the outer world, but burdened on the inside.
I would tell her that she is OK as she is. I would tell her that she is worthy. I would lighten her load and tell her she doesn’t have to be perfect. I would tell her to trust herself to be in the moment and not always on guard. I would tell her to breathe, and not to waste time in worry and guilt. I would tell her not to spend herself on people who make her feel “less than,” ever. I would tell her not to be afraid to fail because every experience counts and will come in handy somehow, somewhere. I would tell her to trust her honest heart and good soul.
In short, I would love her.
This I tell myself now, and anyone who will listen– to love and have faith in our “selves.” This is the source of our energy, our joy, and our real power—and will lead us to speak in our true voices to the world.
Love the website. Enjoyed reading “Lessons to Younger Self” and some of the movie and theater reviews. I’ll be back again. Thanks for choosing an easy to remember website name!
Hey Alvah– So glad you like it and thanks for checking it out!– Please subscribe to receive regular e-mail updates whenever I post! I’m hoping to build traffic to the site!
I love this photo – your eyes say so much!
Only you, West, would say such a lovely thing.
Joyce, I saw the picture of you in your 20’s which proves to me that you have been a gorgeous woman for at least 40 years or longer <3 <3 <3
Many thanks Michael– let’s see how the next 40 work out…!
Wonderful essay, I’m going to send it to Becky. How I wish Alli could read this. Also can’t help but notice that at 17, you already had a mischievous sparkle in your eyes.
Thank you so much, Steve… you are one sweet man. I’d be honored if Becky read it.
(And yes, I was always a little off the wall– I mean, uh…. mischievous.)
How wonderful you are! Big hugs to you . . .
Dear Sue– Right back at you!
What an inspiring and powerfull essay ! I am about your age and have been following your career since you made the career transition from being a Brookline High teacher and you are an inspiration and role model of persevervance and reinventing yourself, On a personal level I found your life and example validation for my life, I definitely would pass this on to an young woman trying to survive in this complicated world. Keep on truckin ! .
Helen- Thank you for that very kind response. I find it is still true and I work hard everyday to be more accepting of myself, and those around me. It’s VERY hard!!But I truly believe it is the source of our deepest strength. Thanks so much for following JoycesChoices!
That was awesome Joyce. Great website also. Beautiful then and beautiful now!
What an inspiration! As a cancer survivor and member of the https://wellnesswarriorsboston.org/ cancer survivor dragon boat team (Boston) I appreciate your spirit. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by team mates who are also strong spirited and an inspiration!
Keep up the good work.
Thanks so much Joan for the kind words! It’s the year of the snake and a whole new beginning! Wishing you good health in this new year!
Joyce, I am still in your corner,I feel the same as you do about your life and the things that I have done,on February of last year I was on The Phil Paleologos Mid Morning Magazine Show talking about having been the first African-American to break through the racial barriers inside the NBC-TV network in 1963,I worked on the Tonight Show and The Today Show.I had a wonderful time working with you at WBZ-TV back in the DAY! CJ
OMG Charles! How great to see you pop up in my comments box! You were always so gracious to me at WBZ and I had NO IDEA you were such a trailblazer! You rock! Thanks for being in touch! Hope all is well in your corner of the world!
Lessons to Younger Self is WONDERFUL! I look forward to more efforts to enable women to trust themselves, their decisions and their abilities… Joyce, you rock!
Hey Roberta! Love your response–and will miss you in your former capacity! Will be in touch!
Love the new site and the whole idea behind it. I am sure your “second act” will be as exciting and successful as your first. Thanks for the “Lessons to My Younger Self” article, too. I will have my daughter read it and think how I wish I could have read that when I was just becoming a teenager. Hope to see you soon!
Thanks so much Margrette!! Miss you!
Hi Joyce, I’ve been listen to you for while with Marjorie and Jim. As I was reading your essay, I could stop thinking about my 10 yrs daughter.
Good bless you!
Thanks so much for the very kind words!
What a poignant and insightful entry!
I have a young daughter who is five, and I hope she grows up with the same sense of “possibility” that you describe. We try very hard as parents to allow her to discover her own world (perhaps, too much??), and she GOES FOR IT!! I hope that it sticks with her, as it seemingly has for you!
For me, it’s a little tougher. I often wonder what happened to the teenager that seemed to feel that the world was for the taking. Not so simple, now…
In so many ways, your words strike a very familiar chord. Thank you.
Thanks so much– I am always touched when someone finds something they can identify with when I share some of myself. Sounds like your girl is lucky to have such a father–just be happy for her and support her all the way. The joy you take in her exploits may lead you back to yourself…!
Dear Ms. Kulhawik-
You were my student teacher at Burlington High School in 1975 (English Lit.? American Lit.?, I just can’t recall) and you were the first woman I ever met who insisted on being called “Ms.”, which I thought was so cool, progressive and independent. Years ago when traveling on business, I saw you on TV in Boston, but that was long before the days of FB, Twitter et al, and had no way to contact you. This week, when I thought of everyone I know who had a Boston connection, you popped into my head and through the now routine wonders of Google, here you are. Glad to know you are alive and kicking, you always vibrated with energy, smarts, enthusiasm and verve, and I learned a lot watching you handle adolescent boys, condescending leaders and older teachers. Thank you for being so up-front and real, and for caring so much, obviously a life-long trait and, in some ways, your avocation.
Anyway, thank you from an awkward girl who really appreciated all you brought to her provincial, Burlington, VT world (before BTV was way cool and beyond hip).
Kindest personal regards,
How amazing to hear from you and be reminded of my younger self!I was always a renegade down deep–and continue to refine my “calling,” and in fact am re-formatting even as we speak. I was feeling pretty awkward myself back then, and continue to learn everyday how to be who I am. If you are ever in Boston, please let me know — it would be fun to meet again!
You are so kind, thank you, and hey, aren’t we all still refining, I now manage a group of auditors and accountants and I am *so* not an accountant, but life takes us all sorts of places, and one never knows, do one?
Take good care and have fun, and next time I am in Boston I will let you know, I have a 14 year old who thinks she may want to go to college in Boston, so who knows.
I did know your younger self and now I’ve met you again all these years later. Nice to see we have not changed a bit and still 17 going on…………. The coyote was a good sign? Right! Keep me in mind if the 1 should pass your way. A true pleasure to have collided with my youth again on a beautiful spring day in Concord. Sorry for ambusing your lunch date with Alice. Just had to say Hi! Whit
HAH!That was kismet.I am NEVER early for anything, and there you were!I loved running into you–I was truly stunned, and then tickled at the glimpse back into my decadent past.Thank you for the kind recollection; I will certainly keep you in mind if I meet a devastating candidate, or need a racket strung…! I do hope you are now following JOYCESCHOICES!
I really enjoyed reading that, particularly the last few paragraphs. Keep up the great writing!
THANK YOU so much, April! The words are truer and truer all the time–just curious– how did you happen on my site?
Words of wisdom that every young girl should read. I will be sure my daughters do just that. God bless.
Thanks for the feedback!! So glad you enjoyed—feel free to pass it on!
Thank you for sharing your insights. Your essay beautifully it shows how your understanding of yourself and your perceptions of society at large have changed drastically through the decades. You are absolutely right to advise young girls to assert the fact that they belong to themselves first, and they are not obligated to spend their time or effort appeasing those who do not respect this fact.
I will be sure to share this essay with my children, my nieces, my nephews and my students.
Thanks so much for the kind words– pass the link along to anyone you think might like!
Just happened on this today..years after you pennedit, I am sure.
But, you spoke to pwer then..you speak to power now..and, as importantly, you help others find their theirs..
Liz– You are and always have been a sweetheart– even when you scared me in high school.