It’s the little things…

Ruth Lesmana

A thing like being asked whether or not I’m worried about my chances of getting married, if I were to pack up my life and pursue a fight for a cause bigger than myself.

A thing like having a classmate flick my skirt up during our woodwork class in the hopes of catching a glimpse of which he has no permission to view.

A thing like listening to a supposedly ‘fellow’ male leader repeating something I’ve already said in a meeting but laughing it off as his own thought while others approved of it.

It’s the little things that I never realized would make much of a difference. Yet they do.
I love this quote by Jim Watkins:
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

See, I’ve also always loved the ocean. In one hand, the ocean can instill such peace and serenity. There’s nothing quite like sitting on the beach whilst listening to the waves crash in… throw in a cool breeze in the air, and the soft sand flickering across your toes… where else would you rather be? And yet, the ocean can be one of the most damaging, deadly places to be in. When we think about bodies of water, and the way in which they can erode through rock, stone, pretty much everything if given enough time; they are indeed powerful forces.

In a lot of ways, the little things that are said, done, and expected of girls and women in our current society cut through their inherent value and view of themselves. I remember asking myself whether I should feel any less of a woman for not worrying about my chances of getting married; and whether or not I should just get over the fact that ‘boys will be boys’; and whether or not my position in leadership still meant that sometimes, I’d be silenced by the voices given a more amplified standing than mine.

It’s not that they are stronger, or more powerful than we are. It’s that the persistence of these little things eventually add up to something bigger. One of two things could happen:

– Accept that that’s just the way things are, and there’s not much we can do about it, or
– Confront what is said and done in these situations in order to break the flow.

Build that dam. Fight their persistence with our own by living a life that exemplifies equality, justice, and humility.

“A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”– Nancy Rathburn

So we choose to do the little things to build, in order to counter those that break. We choose to give, and dig deeper, and channel our persistence towards something that reminds future generations of their courage. We choose resilience, and to remain grateful for the opportunities we have to execute change. Whether that’s through teaching the young girls we come across that they have the right to decide their own boundaries and stand by them; or having conversations with the men in our lives about showing common respect. It’s the “little” things.

By Ruth Lesmana

*Article originally published by Ruth Lesmana on for RMJ United – January, 2017.