Self-Love September: Monthly Challenge #9
We hear a lot about self-care these days. But I don't think you can really do self-care unless you start with self-love.
Unconditional love for ourselves helps us give ourselves permission to take time for all sorts of self-care activities that we'd otherwise convince ourselves we don't need or don't deserve.
No matter how old we are, each of us has an inner child that is not yet done growing. A less developed part of ourselves that needs our love and forgiveness.
The goal of this monthly challenge is to accept that although we will always be less than perfect, we are works in progress that deserve to be loved. And that starts with loving ourselves.
For those of you based in the U.S., there's no better time to start this challenge — In the words of Wikipedia, Labor Day "honors the the contributions that workers have made to the development, growth, endurance, strength, security, prosperity, productivity, laws, sustainability, persistence, structure, and well-being of the country."
So let's get started - we've got 7 kinds of challenges. You need to complete one of them each day. You can work through them Sunday to Monday, or you can simply pick your favorites and repeat them as much as you like.
And of course, you can add some of your own as well — if you do, let us know what you added in the comments section or by tweeting us @PowerToFly and using #SelfLoveSeptember.
1) Forgive yourself.
Identify something that's been eating at you. Big or small. A birthday party you didn't attend, a thank you note you forgot to send, an email you never replied to. Decide whether or not you'd like to an action (e.g. making amends if you haven't already). Take the action if desired. And then forgive yourself.
2) Stand up for yourself.
There are a lot of ways to do this, big and small. Thinking big? Try asking for a raise, or having a tough conversation with a loved one about your needs. Want to go smaller? When a friend asks you where you want to go for dinner/what you want to do, be honest! Don't say, "Oh, wherever," for the sake of going with the flow.
3) Protect your time.
Set your schedule for the day — when you'll arrive at work and when you'll leave, and stick to it. You can also block off time during the day for lunch, a quick workout, or a productive, interruptions-free work session.
You can protect your time in your personal life, too — try saying no when a friend tries to guilt you into doing something you'd rather not.
4) Write down 3 of your favorite qualities about yourself.
No need to go overboard, just jot down 3 of the things you've always liked about yourself. Sense of humor, intelligence, work ethic, compassion... whatever it is. If you repeat this exercise, try to make sure you always write in the same place so that at the end you have a complete list of all the things you like about yourself, and not multiple scattered lists.
5) Identify one thing you did really well during the day.
And then congratulate yourself for it. If you're corny, you can literally pat yourself on the back.
6) Do something you love by yourself.
Do something just for you, by yourself. Remind yourself that you don't need others to make you happy.
You deserve this time to focus on your interests and prioritize time with yourself. Go for a run, catch a movie, get a pedicure, sneak off for an hour to read.... whatever it is you love.
7) Ask someone else what they like about you.
Sure, we all know that "self-love comes from within," but validation from a close friend or family member can help pull us up when we're down.
It might seem awkward literally asking for compliments, but if you approach it as a joint exercise, a close friend or family member should have no problem sharing what they like most about you and hearing what you like most about them.
Supply and demand… we all know that as job seekers, high demand and low supply work in our favor. It's a booming job market already, but even more so for data analysts.
The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech
"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."
I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.
Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.
So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.
And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.
This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.
Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."
In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.
What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)
Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:
How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back
With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.
When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.
They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.
- Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."
Why You Should Care
Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.
- To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.
Tallon sums it up well:
"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"
So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.
Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.
That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.
Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.
- Network with top executives even if you aren't looking for a new role
- First look at flexible, work-from-home, in-office roles
- Join live chats led by expert women in your field and beyond
It goes without saying that at some point in your career, you'll come down with a cold or virus that will require you to stay home from work, drink excessive amounts of tea, and make good use of that gravity blanket you impulse-bought off of Amazon.
A Thought-Provoking Conversation on How the Firm Empowers Their Associates
We all need something to motivate us to show up to work each day – to have a purpose, to feel engaged and fulfilled. For some, it's our coworkers. For others, it's our clients. It might even be our company's mission.