Written by Megan Blevins Tuesday, July 24 2012I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have time to read nearly half of the emails that I receive amongst my three email accounts. Most of the subject lines that come across my BlackBerry don’t “grab” me — but an email from Womenetics and Senior Editor Janece Shaffer did just that.
“What Keeps You Up at Night?” asked Shaffer.
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken the time to not only read every last word of an article, but I thought for days about what keeps me up at night…
As a young professional who has lived in Washington, D.C. for two years, I felt the professional and personal challenges of “making it” in the world almost instantly. During my first week of work, a colleague of mine categorized me as “a lazy and unappreciative member of Generation Y, who feels like they are entitled to success, even though they haven’t earned it…”
Yes, someone actually said that to me. And the worst part is they meant it. I get it — I’m the low-man on the totem pole, and I have lots of learning to do – but I strongly beg to differ that I am part of a generation who hasn’t “earned” it or who isn’t determined to make a difference and be successful on our own.
In my family, I am one of three girls — ages 22, 24 and 26 — and between the three of us over the past two years we have: survived an alcoholic husband, had an unexpected baby with a father who has turned out to be anything but a “dad” and survived a verbally abusive relationship.
But in the last two years, I have also watched one sister become a nationally acclaimed high school chorus teacher and have watched my other sister make the best grades she ever has in college — studying to be a dietitian — while also working a full-time job. As for myself, I work on the communications team for the largest environmental nonprofit in the country and have my own freelance writing company.
“A lazy generation,” you say?
We beg to differ. As young, female professionals in our fields, we’re battling more than personal trials, but learning to navigate through an ever-changing global market and inner-office workplace — and the truth of the matter is, we’re the ones doing the change.
We are redefining the way business is done. As economic reports continue to predict a future with fewer jobs for those graduating today, we don’t let that stop us. We create our own business, like 23-year-old Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, who co-founded the company Uncharted Play; the company's first product is the sOccket ball, a soccer ball that doubles as a portable generator. The company (who's original idea for sOccketball started in a lab class at Harvard University) is working with State Farm and the Latin alternative music group Huecco to distribute at least 2500 balls to communities in Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica before the end of 2012.
We’re a generation of risk-takers. We believe in helping others over making a dime of profit and travel the world in pursuit of building schools and orphanages, and plumbing and irrigation systems for forgotten towns. Time and time again we have turned down the secure 9 to 5 job and have built our own online marketing firms and social media management groups that have single-handedly revamped dying companies into the new age of the global, internet market.
We have been called a generation of dreamers — but Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rachel Carson were once called dreamers too.
So, Janece Shaffer of Womenetics asked: “What keeps me up at night?”
It’s that some don’t want us to be a generation of greatness. If we believe that it can be done, then we work and work with every inch of our might till we achieve. We fight not to prove to the “nay-sayers” that they were wrong, but to prove to ourselves that we are capable of being the persons we’ve always dreamed of — regardless of what an economic report says.
I have been inspired by so many women in my own family and friends who have refused to say “no” even when driving over speed bumps, who in my mind are the next generation of leaders because of their strength. So maybe, it's hope that keeps me up at night…
But I too, ask you: What keeps you up at night?
Let these women and their stories inspire you to discover your own passions, motivations and more importantly … find out what keeps you up at night:
Megan Blevins lives in Washington, D.C., and is an environmental writer for the National Wildlife Federation and founder of the freelance writing company, Ma.B Productions. She writes on a variety of subjects, including wildlife and climate change, U.S. energy policy, organic gardening and women in the workplace. Her work has been featured in blogs and newspapers including Urban Organic, the Daily Citizen News, Wildlife Promise and Housekeepingchannel.com. In 2010, she was named a Rotary International Ambassador for her volunteer work with the local Rotary Club in Bariloche, Argentina.