The sight on Wall Street brought me to tears.
Although the freezing cold temperature alone was cry-worthy, I wasn’t tearing up from the cold. I wasn’t tearing up because of the crowds that were jostling me from every direction. Instead, I found myself crying in front of the Fearless Girl statue.
The statue was small and hard to see at first. She was surrounded by a crowd of photo-snapping people, all trying to get a glimpse of the little girl. People rushed forward out of the crowd to get a picture with her before being blocked by another photo-hungry tourist. I just stood there in awe.
The Fearless Girl is a tribute to 2017’s International Women’s Day. It stands just a few feet tall, and defiantly faces the famous Wall Street bull statue. I read online that the city is still discussing the length of time the statue will stand here; I’ve heard from others she will only be here for a month. However long she remains, I am thankful I was able to meet her during my time here in New York.
I wish I could be this little girl. When I face deadlines, adversaries, sexism, and entering the workplace in two years, I hope to look like her. While in New York and at the College Media Conference, I met and heard from many powerful women that talked about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace, and how to be a girl who stands up for herself, hands on hips, defiant to a world that isn’t always on her side.
My favorite speaker I heard from while at the College Media Conference was Ann Shoket, the previous editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine. I recorded her keynote speech because it was so full of inspiring advice, and useful tidbits on how to be a successful women in the news workplace.
She spoke about the trouble that all women face these days: finding a career that is also your passion, earning respect from bosses, finding a life-partner who honors ambition, and trying to balance children if work, if you want to have children. Her advice was this: “Sit at the table, and don’t be afraid to speak.” Ann said too often she saw women and young people in the workplace sitting off to the side, letting people make decisions for them. She said while in the workplace, step forward, sit at the actual table during meetings, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
My favorite thing Ann spoke about was how she had been chasing her 16-year-old dream her entire life, which was to be a writer in New York. “It’s a feeling you spend your life chasing,” she said, and just like at the Fearless Girl statue, I found tears welling in my eyes in the audience. (I am a very emotional person, I’ll admit.) Ann inspired me to admit to myself: I want to be someone who chases their 16-year-old dream.
I realized at this conference, in front of the Fearless Girl, and while being with my co-workers that I want to be a fearless women who chases her dream of being a writer and a world-changer. Ann Shoket, who has had so much success in her life, reminded me that these things are possible with tenacity, bravery, and being strong in the face of occasional rejection.
It has been a privilege to be in New York surrounded by other fearless women. Malika Andrews, our editor-in-chief, was able to speak at a panel about her upcoming New York Times internship. Nancy Copic, our advisor, did a flawless job with keeping eight young adults out of trouble and organized in New York. And my other co-workers inspire me every day with their humor, maturity, and commitment to the field of journalism.
Ann finished by saying that she keeps a stack of all the rejection letters she’s ever received and she looks at them occasionally. One newspaper told her, “You don’t seem to have a future in writing.” But she proved them wrong, and stood her ground with her dream. Hearing from Ann and witnessing many powerful and inspiring women in the news profession has inspired me to return to Portland with a new confidence and a new resolve to be a fearless girl who takes life’s bull by the horns.