We are not ever “less than”
When I was born I was an immediate disappointment to my parents. Like all other babies, I think I was pretty adorable, but they were still disappointed because I was born a girl. They had waited seven years to have me because they were told by some religious person at the temple they attended that I would definitely be a boy if I was born in that year (appears that Paul the Octopus had better predictions with the footfall games). They doted on my older sister because she was their first born child, but they had such high hopes for me to be a boy to help carry on our family’s surname for future generations to come. Alas I am not. To make things worse, my aunt was pregnant the same time as my mom, and as luck would have it (or more like the father’s genes at play here), they gave us a boy cousin. Yes, my parents’ hopes were clearly dashed when I was born.
Throughout my childhood, I tried to show my parents that having me was not a total devastating loss – I was fearless in doing things, excelled at school, never demanded for anything, and brought home lots of awards. But they never once said “I’m proud of you, Susan” or to let me know that whatever I have achieved even mattered to them. I do know for a fact that they love me, but they love me a bit “less than” just because I am a girl.
They eventually had my brother five years after me and my sister and I were often told that we must always let him win in everything and never let any harm come to him. That did cause some resentment from his sisters who did not understand why he was so precious just because he was a boy. But I do adore my brother and would protect him from any harm coming his way, just because he is my younger sibling, as I do with my younger sister who came shortly after my brother.
I believe this is one of the major reasons why I am so passionate about women’s empowerment today, and that being a woman does not make us “less than” in any way. We should have the same opportunities to be leaders, to be paid the same, to be given a seat at the big table, to be allowed to amplify our voices and to lift up other women along the way.
No matter what I did, I could never get my parents to fully appreciate or love me like they do with my brother. With that life lesson, I also came to understand that we could not fully control what others think or feel about us, whether it’s our parents, colleagues, friends or even bosses. However, we should certainly strive to bring our best selves to everything we do, not for the sake of anyone else but for the sake of our own happiness and satisfaction.
You may often hear me say that I am my worst enemy and my best champion. But whichever end I land on, it’s all me and my own doing. I take pride in my accomplishments and I take responsibility for my failures. I want all the women out there to know this – that no matter what circumstances you came from or where you are at this moment in your lives, you are strong, powerful and no one can take that away from you.
People may ask why I would forgive my parents for loving me “less than” my brother. It is because I do love them for giving me life, giving me my amazing siblings, and inspiring me in many other ways to be strong and independent, despite their unfortunate limiting belief that boys are somehow better than girls. I am truly grateful for all they have done for me and the opportunities they have given me in life. But more importantly, by forgiving them, the unfairness I had felt when I was young no longer holds any power over me so that I am free to move on.
So the next time you hear me speak passionately on the importance of women’s empowerment, can I say that I blame it on my parents?
Founder & CEO
The Koa Club
Be Brave. Be Koa