As I take a moment to honor Women’s History Month, I’m grateful for the contributions given, earned, and fought for the equality of women and men. I’m fortunate to pursue my career at the male-dominated CenterPoint Energy with ease, and to publish my creative writing with the best of my personality and style. This month reminds me of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in the 2016 Grammy Awards. After all the obstacles she hurdled in her 14+ years in the music industry, she gave this message which spoke to me:
“I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you’re going, you will look around and you will know—it was you, and the people who love you, who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
When I heard this speech from my Eagan, Minnesota, townhome, it struck me that a creator’s work can stand above extreme criticism. My college education taught me the theory of New Criticism, which states that a reader or critic can evaluate a work independently of the author’s life or the society and era in which the work was written. The work should speak for itself.
When I observed my own life and writing, I found that my greatest comparison to Taylor Swift is my zeal for the creative life. My experience in the Teen Writers Group at the Wescott Library, my bachelor’s degree in Literature & Writing, and my career has taught me that experience and persistence stand above a crowd. I feel honored to live in the 21st century where the maxims of my favorite authors, both male and female, are at my fingertips. My advice to you, my readers, may sound cliché, but be yourself and stay true to your calling. Your work will shine above the rest.