It's still Women's History Month over here at Pink Cereal and Raspberries. I've talked about my mommy, one of my great-grandmothers and the three librarians who make it possible to come to work each day. Now, it's time for those women who make me want to be a better person.
She Knows What She Wants - Though we had a few classes together as freshmen in high school, we didn't really become friends until our sophomore year. She had to come to school early, because her sister at zero period drama. I had to come to school early, because my dad started work at 7:15, and he was my only source of transportation. So, we would walk around the nearly empty high school campus for the twenty minutes or so before other students started to arrive. Eventually, our two social groups merged, and we kept up our friendship through the rest of high school. We're still friends today, after four years of college, five years of grad school (well two for me, and five and counting for her), and despite never having once lived in the same city. Why is she an influence? Because she never stops chasing her dreams, even if those dreams have to change shape. For as long as I've known her, she's wanted to be a doctor. She worked all through college, she got a masters to help strengthen her application, and then, because of a grant she received to get her masters, she had to apply to Ph.D. programs. At that moment, she was faced with a choice. Retake the MCAT and apply to medical schools along with Ph.D. Programs, or truly pursue a different career? Sure, she'll still be "Doctor Best Friend in the Whole Wide World," but she won't be an MD. She struggled with the decision, and eventually realized that a Ph.D. would probably allow her to make more of an impact on the world than an MD. Brilliant as she is, several schools fought over her, and she turned down the one that would likely provide her with the best career options, because she didn't want to be seven hours away from her family (a family that loves and takes advantage of her). She has altered the content of her dreams, but she realized early on, and without bitterness, that was part of growing up. And I respect her more than she can possibly ever imagine.
College Glam Girl - From the outside, she looks like she only cares about purses. And possibly shoes. And that her boyfriend drives her around in a fancy car. But if you get into her world, you realize how much more there actually is to her. Of course, I've known this since we were seventeen year old college freshmen. And though I've known it nearly nine years, I keep learning it over and over again. She buys $800 purses, because they make her feel special, but those purses don't stop her from calling her mother each day, from playing mediator between her mom and (slightly) crazy little sister, between her mom and (now re-married) dad, between her grandmother and nearly anyone else in the family. The high heels don't stop her from being the one who handled all of the details that required handling after her boyfriend wrecked his car (not his fault). She called the insurance company. She researched cars and handled much of the negotiation for his replacement vehicle. She's dealt with me when I was angry and tired and lonely after a long illness. She takes care of everyone in her life, so what's wrong with an $800 bag once a year?
Anne of Green Gables, meet Diana - Anne of Green Gables always wanted a bosom friend. That one friend to whom she could tell everything and who would tell her everything in return. The friend who would call her on her nonsense and love her no matter what. I have a friend like that. I talk to her everyday (at least via e-mail). We hang out whenever we can. Through each other, we work out our life issues and problems. If I have a problem, I will go to her to help me find the solution. Someone asked me recently why it's her I go to, why not another friend, or why tell a friend at all? Well, she will tell me what I already need to know. She will give me advice based on how much she knows about me, not based on what she would do in my situation. But besides being my go-to-girl for just about everything, I respect and admire the way she lives her life. Honestly. She makes decisions based on what will be best for everyone. She gives her parents significant sums of money, despite the fact that she's not quite in a place in her career where that is comfortable for her. She mediates between her sister and her parents, her brother and her parents, her brother and her sister, and still manages to go see her parents once a week for dinner. She knows her priorities and sticks to them. She has a sucky job that she needs to quit, but she won't do that until she fulfills her responsibilities. She won't leave her employers in the lurch. She has changed a lot in the nearly seven years I've known her. She's grown up. She's taken care of herself. She's learned to love. And I'm lucky to know her.
How do these women influence me? Well, they make me realize that no matter how much I might want, on some days, to have an easier life, no such thing exists. We have to live our lives in constant motion. We must love our families, handle our jobs and make compromises all along. Compromise is not a failure, compromise is being brave enough and mature enough to recognize a good choice from a selfish one.