As a journalist I don't find it hard to stay objective. I'm trained that way. I interview without bias and I state the facts. And I love that. I enjoy that in my day to day job I'm informing without judgement. I'm journaling what's happening while keeping my opinions my opinions.
But then something happened.
The United States decided to vote a man into the most powerful position in the Western world whose opinions, ethics and morals don't sit well with me. As soon as he was elected I wrote out an opinion piece outlining what my opinion was on feminism and what I exactly thought of the treatment of women in today's society. It was opinionated and highly emotional. I then put it aside. I thought about it. Hundreds of articles have been written on Donald Trump and what it means for women. I didn't want mine to just be another 'article.' Instead, I have decided that the best thing I can do for women and the fight for feminism is to conduct a series of interviews with smart, powerful, successful women. Not just famous women, but everyday women. I wanted the articles to be about them and the challenges they face as women and how they have decided to overcome those. I also wanted their opinion on what it meant to be a feminist today. I decided that this was a much better way to fight sexism and those who don't believe in equal rights. Something real and relevant and something I really wanted to write.
Photo Credit: Sarah MacKenzie Photography.
TIFFANY SLACK-SMITH knows a thing or two about starting again. After a failed relationship that sucked up money and emotions, Tiffany was forced to move away with her 9 year old daughter and start again.
“My mother taught me from a young age how to be self sufficient,” she said from her new home on the Gold Coast. “Not just through words but through her actions. She ran a business alongside my father and it was because of her it was successful. She was the cook, the events manager, the HR manager and the admin clerk. She was there every day from sunrise till well after sunset. I watched her work hard, raise two children, keep house and stay strong, positive and focussed.”
Tiffany herself managed a successful career in Event Management while moving regularly to support her partner’s career and raise their daughter, Ruby. But this life took it’s toll.
“Work demands can take a toll on family time and we are often burning the candle at both ends. Our children are doing more activities and sport and at school and we want to be a part of that so rushing from a meeting to creeping in the back of assembly or a recital just in time for your child to get a glimpse of you and know that you are there is the norm,” said Tiffany.
In an age of data overload and over-crowded diaries, networking and out of hours events have become an increasingly common part of our time-poor world. Add this to your day of rising at 5am to squeeze in a bit yoga or to whizz yourself up a power-smoothie before getting the kids organised for school, rushing to work/meetings/events, ducking out for assembly before realising you forgot to dress them in pink for that day’s charity fundraiser then making a quick trip to the shops before heading back to work to finish up the report that’s due by 5, picking the kids up, swimming/music/sport/dancing lessons, battling with tired children to do homework while clutching a glass of wine, stuffing clothes into the washing machine, cooking dinner, negotiating with your teen on how often he needs to shower and battling with your 10 year old to switch off devices and it’s no wonder we’re all feeling a little overwhelmed.
Trying to do too much is a familiar tale for many women trying to hold down a career, raise children and keep a relationship alive. And without the right support network it can be impossible to hold it all together without feeling a little like you’re going crazy.
“I've recently ended a relationship with a narcissist and sociopath where he had me convinced that I was incapable of doing much more than answering phones. Now that I'm out, I'm angry and shocked at myself for getting sucked in and allowing him to stay in my life. I felt so empowered when I left him even though it was the single hardest thing I've had to do in my life.”
Now, Tiffany is determined to support and mentor women so they don’t feel alone. So they know that they are more than capable of doing it all, but perhaps not all at once and definitely not by themselves or surrounded by the wrong people. She is also determined to not allow bad behaviour from anyone else determine her life.
“In business, when dealing with men in meetings and at events they can often be competitive and harsh and confronting if women are a minority,” said Tiffany. “Women need to stay true to themselves. Do not conform. Have confidence in who you are and do not get overpowered. Women need to celebrate their successes and accomplishments. Have confidence in what you've done and shout it from the rooftops. It is not bragging.”
Tiffany is now involved in an organisation that aims to empower and encourage women in business. She often hosts networking events and has the opportunity to talk to hundreds of women each week who may be feeling tired, broken or may just need guidance from someone who has been there. “Women in business need a support network of like-minded people like Business in Heels, who lift them up and are happy to see them achieve. The most confident leaders have not always been that way.” Tiffany advises women to get a mentor, create a supportive tribe and do your best.
Tiffany’s journey of self awareness and empowerment is still continuing. But a stalled career and a couple of unhealthy relationships and not enough to keep her down.
“What would my mother say if I gave up?” she questions - acknowledging that those early years of watching a feminist women take control of her life gives her the strength she needs to get up, show up and give her own daughter the skills she needs to be a strong, independant women.
And her advice to younger women, perhaps going through challenges of their own? “Follow your dreams, stick to your guns and don't let anyone be a part of your business or personal life that does not have your best interest at heart. Be real, be confident, learn from your mistakes and don’t forget to spend time celebrating your successes! Learn the art of networking and build a tribe that will support you. Be amazing!”