During the last 5 months I’ve often thought: If I’d been born in ___(insert name of developing country here)___ my life would be so different.
The mere name of the country on my passport provides me with a degree of freedom and privilege, which was handed to me at birth. I’m coming home with a new awareness of how fortunate I am to have the rights I have as an American woman. But, I’m also returning with an inexplicable appreciation for the female role model I’ve had for the past 22 years.
The other day I was telling my Nepali girlfriends about my family and showing them photos. When I showed them my mom their reaction was “Oh my gosh. She’s so pulled together – so happy, young, and professional. No wonder you can travel on your own and take care of yourself!”
My initial, Western reaction was “Umm, duh. Just because I’m a girl, doesn’t mean I can’t travel alone and take care of myself.” But then I thought about my upbringing. I thought about how gracefully my mom balances the roles of mother, friend, and successful businesswoman. She’s worked so hard to get to where she is and to guide me. By example, I was raised in an environment where no limitations existed because of gender. She always told me I could be, do and change anything with passion and hard work. And when I started planning this trip she supported me and told me she had complete faith in my judgment.
While as an American female I have opportunities handed to me that women in other countries struggle to attain, a big portion of where I am today is because I’ve had an inspirational woman to guide me there.
So, to my mom, with all the love I can send through this post, thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be the woman I am without you. xoxoxo