Grant yourself permission to be big

How Jackie Cox Battles overcame self-doubt and societal pressures to realize her ambitions.

Weber Shandwick's Jackie Cox Battles.

Celebrating women who tell our stories. That’s the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month and for me, it’s hitting closer to home than ever.

So, here goes. My own story.

I recently announced I was taking a new (and exciting) job with more responsibility and opportunity. The overwhelming response was support and encouragement. But the other responses were filled with surprise, and questions: But you have four kids? Won’t it require more travel? How will you manage it? Is now really the right time?

Well meaning? Maybe. Sexist? You tell me. If I was a dad of four instead of a mom of four, would I be getting the same line of questioning? Is it because I’m a woman?

Our society celebrates men with ambition. Full stop. Especially fathers who are providing for their families all while climbing the corporate ladder. A woman with ambition? And even more, a mother with young children? She’s too frequently judged for her plans to nurture a career and raise children. We’re still living in a time when being a woman with ambitious career goals and being what society deems a “good” mother are at odds. It’s the “having it all” dilemma that women have been trying to solve for decades.

I’ll admit, the doubts and concern got to me. This choice was about me. But isn’t a mother supposed to be completely selfless? Her needs, dreams and goals set aside to prioritize those of her children? It’s what “mom guilt” is made of—that self-doubting voice challenging the mother you are with the one you think you need to be.

Only when I freed myself from all that noise and nonsense was I able to realize what I truly wanted without feeling I was sacrificing my motherhood in the process. This new opportunity was a chance for me to transform my story, author a chapter where I take my passion for my craft to the next level and push myself out of my comfort zone discovering new challenges and ultimately new growth. 

To reenergize. To reinspire. To redefine.

For other women struggling to tell their story amidst a tsunami of self-doubt and societal pressures, I share with you a few learnings: 

  1. Expect to receive judgement and doubt when you push forward, but don’t let it hold you back from what you want.
  2. Instead of shrinking yourself to fit into societal acceptance, grant yourself permission to be big.
  3. Create a story that is uniquely true to who you are because you are the only one who can tell it. Then go tell that story to anyone and everyone.
  4. Don’t waste time on guilt. You’ve got more important things to do.

Now, go do them and tell your story.

Jackie Cox Battles is at Weber Shandwick where she serves as New York consumer brand practice lead and North America consumer brand practice growth lead.

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