Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day. On that day, in 1920, American women were granted the right to vote. The name is a bit of a misnomer—being able to vote didn’t automatically result in equality—but it was a step in the right direction.
There were some incredible people, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought a long, hard war so that you and I could cast our votes and have a say in the decisions of our country. Both those women died before they could see the victory they’d fought for. I’m sure there were days when they thought they were Don Quixotes, battling windmills that would only keep turning. No doubt they had moments when they were sure their hard work was in vain.
But it wasn’t.
It took an exhausting length of time and hordes of dedicated people to make it happen. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fast. But I bet they’d tell you the battles were worth the victory.
Sometimes, Bridget, the most important things in your life require a long fight, battle after battle. There will be days when you’re so exhausted, so tired of striving, you’ll doubt whether you can keep fighting.
But you may be only inches away from a victory. And even though your efforts may seem to disappear into a void, you don’t know what’s around the corner or how your actions may impact someone else.
Anthony and Stanton didn’t know me. They died decades before I was even born. But I bet they imagined me, imagined women in the future who would cast their votes alongside their male peers, their voices bearing equal weight. Their struggles resulted in my right, one I try to never take for granted.
There may be things you do, Bridget, actions you take that will have results you won’t be able to see. But that doesn’t mean they’re in vain. And there will be other victories you can see, but they may arrive only after a tiring battle.
But no matter how many battles you fight or what you strive for, the most important battle you will ever fight is one within yourself—the battle for hope. Because if you lose that battle, it really will be in vain. If you look around at this noisy world and start to believe your voice is insignificant, that your dreams aren’t worth the effort, then you’ve laid down your sword and surrendered.
Don’t surrender, Bridget. Hold fast to hope. Never let it slip from your fingers. There are legions of people, ones who know you and ones who’ve never met you, who believe in your ability to achieve something great. But they cannot fight your battles for you.
So lift your sword, Bridget. And don’t you dare surrender.
What’s Dear Bridget all about? It’s a series of letters to a hypothetical teen girl named Bridget. Why Bridget? It means strong. And it represents the current generation of young women. These letters are my attempt to break through the chaos and the crap that’s flying at today’s young woman in order to offer advice and encouragement, from me and other incredible women who remember what it was like to be in her shoes.