Girls can’t climb trees, make it to college, know anything about a car other than what color it is, do anything but stand in the kitchen… every single time I hear a guy say “girls can’t do that”—and I only remember men saying it to me—the first thought in my head is “WATCH ME!!” Usually followed by explicative words or how those boys are dumb and don’t know anything, and how they just proved the planet is doomed because they think women are incompetent and unable to do anything. Well I’m sorry sir, but your sorry ass wouldn’t be here without us. That is a totally different conversation though.
Girls can’t do that. Every time I hear that phrase I cringe. Why? Because it is the farthest thing from the truth. I know that I and the over seven billion people on the planet are capable of any task we set our minds too. When I first decided I wanted to be pre-med several people asked me, “Are you sure???” Like women shouldn’t be going to medical school, that only men are supposed to be doctors, that I should be a teacher or consider nursing instead because they are better jobs for women. All I have to say to that is: watch me. I am a woman on a mission, and people that know me know better than to get in my way. Sure, teaching or nursing might be “easier” but I don’t want the easy way. I do things my way. Will it be challenging? Yes. Will there be others trying to knock me down, say I’m not good enough, smart enough… sure. But what makes them smarter or better than me?
Even when I have moments when my life is completely hectic and crazy and I just want to give up, I know my support system is always there for me, cheering me on, each step of the way. My amazing family believes in me and wants nothing more than for me to be happy and smiling. They are always there to tell me I CAN. My best friend is always more than willing to let me vent about my day, make me laugh, or remind me of my goal that at times seems extremely far away. My friends are there for me, who I can do totally ridiculous things with, and talk about anything, making life more enjoyable. Several of us are even going through the exact same thing which is nice to have people who understand exactly what it feels like.
So to all the men out there who have told me I couldn’t do it: when I make it to med school and you don’t… thank you. For pushing me harder and motivating me to succeed. For the time when I can look back at all the struggles and heartache and tears and know that I did it—with lots of help from my family and friends believing in me of course!!
And hopefully somewhere along the way I inspire someone else. The cards may not be in her favor because “girls can’t do that,” but she isn’t going to let that stop her. She wants to keep pushing and dreaming and reaching her goals one step at a time. But until then, I will be thanking all of the ladies (and men!!) who came before me… giving me the opportunity to do what I WANT, not what society thinks I should be doing. Individuals who rocked the boat, who know women have the ability and drive to do THAT… whatever we set our minds to.
So when your sister or daughter or niece says something like “I want to be the president, an astronaut, a doctor, join the military, or single handedly take over the world” are you going to stand there and say… Girls can’t do that?
“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” –Madonna
Katie Britt is a second-year Biomedical Studies Pre-Medicine major, with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.