Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of having my work edited by an editor who has less experience as a writer/editor than I do. As a professional technical writer, I can be more critical than the average writer. This editor, much to my dismay, added grammatical errors instead of correcting them.
But her lack of attention to detail is not the purpose of this post. (She’s probably a nice person who has many friends.) I’m asking about the definition of a modern woman because, as this incident with my editor was unraveling, I felt guilty. Yes, I FELT GUILTY.
Why did I feel guilty? Obviously, I started questioning my self-worth and wondering if I really am a terrible writer. This is a typical spiral for me, as it is for many people – it’s a downward spiral that I no longer have time to indulge in, so I stopped myself and thought about what I really felt underneath all these self-doubting questions. The answer came quickly: Guilt. Then, I began to wonder why I would feel guilty for someone else’s mistakes. In this particular situation, the editor was chosen by another individual, so I can’t even take the blame for selecting this person to edit my work.
This morning, as I started journaling at my kitchen table, hot coffee nearby, I realized that I don’t have the answer as to why I feel guilty about the situation. It also occurred to me that it was ludicrous to think I had enough control in the universe to take the blame for everything that happens in my life. Then I thought about some of the women I aspire to be like. Would they feel guilty for something outside of their control? Of course not.
From this point, I began to think about the definition of a modern woman. Was I acting like a modern woman when I was wallowing in my guilt? No. Have I really defined the phrase “modern woman” so that I know how to behave like one?… sort of, but not really.
The easiest way for me to define something is by using examples, so I have thought of some good examples:
First, I am obsessed with Kelly Rutherford’s character, Lily van der Woodsen, in Gossip Girl (the 2007 version). I used to feel annoyed with myself for watching this show because it doesn’t feel very “modern woman,” and it is slightly off brand for me. When I started thinking about why I watched this show, it occurred to me that I was always hoping to see more of Lily van der Woodsen. Why? Lily van der Woodsen never defended herself and never cared about what other people thought about her. She took care of herself and her family and focused on her own life.
Of course, this character had many flaws, such as the means of obtaining her independence, but I love that she always moved through her world with effortless grace and calm. She always made decisions that aligned with her values and never let anyone’s opinion of her influence her actions.
Second, Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham, embodies a modern woman. Similarly to Lily van der Woodsen, she doesn’t spend time thinking about what others think about her. Lorelai focused on her own life, her own career, and her own family. Another characteristic that I love about Lauren’s character is that she blooms where she is planted. She loves her small town and her home and her job. She was never concerned with being famous or changing careers because she felt insignificant.
From these two examples, I can compile a list of characteristics a modern woman should embody:
- A modern woman focuses on what she can control. She focuses her time and energy on her own life as opposed to being overly concerned with what other people say and do.
- A modern woman is independent. She makes her own money (or at least manages it appropriately) and she builds her life using her own skill.
- A modern woman betters herself, but always maintains patience and kindness towards herself. She does not beat herself up for her mistakes. She accepts her mistakes and keeps moving forward.
- A modern woman finds happiness, peace, and contentment exactly where she is. She does not feel the need to be like someone else in order to be happy.
- A modern woman does not spend time trying to shape the perspective other people have of her. She focuses her attention on the individual interactions that take place in her day to day life.
- A modern woman is proud of herself. She thinks highly of herself and takes pride in her accomplishments without being arrogant or considering herself better than others.
- A modern woman enjoys her life, taking the time to appreciate what she has instead of focusing on what she does not have.
- A modern woman strives to make her life and the lives of her loved ones better. She is not self-centered. She takes care of the people in her life while maintaining healthy boundaries.
- A modern woman is confident. She moves through her life with self-assuredness that comes from giving herself the freedom to experience life.
- A modern woman is not fearful. She is open to new ideas and experiences and does not feel threatened when something upsets the current course of her life.
For more information about what it means to be a modern woman, read this post by Keishel Williams:
Keishel beautifully describes qualities of a modern woman who embraces her whole self, her femininity and her more “masculine” characteristics, such as ambition.
After thinking about these qualities of a modern woman, I am allowing myself not to worry about the outcome of my disastrous editing experience. Instead, I will focus on embodying these characteristics. As a modern woman, this bad experience does not define me, and it is not my job to monitor what people think of me.
Thankfully, this frame of mind allows me to refocus my attention to the activities that add value to my life and the lives of those around me.