I am the woman I am today because my father believed I could be

In the days leading up to International Women’s Day, I thought long and hard about the women who inspire me. Then, I shared an article explaining that the women I have met have shaped the woman I am today. And, on International Women’s Day, I celebrated these women. I celebrated how strong and inspiring they are, and I celebrated how far we have come.

But, the woman I am today has not been shaped solely by the women I have known. I am the woman I am today not only because of them, but also because of my father – a man whose role was equally important.

It is because of him, that I consider myself to be ambitious, competitive, and strong. He taught me how to go after what I want and he believed that there was no obstacle I could not overcome.

I consider myself immensely lucky to have grown up with a father who did not have different rules for his son and his daughter. Growing up, I never heard that there was anything I couldn’t or shouldn’t do just because I was a girl. He taught me how to play sports, he asked for my help when fixing things around the house, he taught me which tools are which and how to use them, and he has not stopped teaching me since.

The woman I am today finds strength when jumping into something new and scary because of him. I hear his voice in my head every time, telling me “Keep your head up; stand your ground” (“Горе главата; дръж се на положение”). I hear these words whenever I feel nervous and unsure of my abilities, and I hear them because they are the words he says to me when I find myself confronted by a challenge.

This International Women’s Day, I was touched by the stories of other women who pointed to their fathers as their source of strength. It got me thinking that maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough when analysing who I am today.

Now, I see that I am the woman I am today because I was raised by a father who believed I could be her. So, just a few days after International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate the fathers who empower their girls to grow into strong women. It is far easier to believe in yourself when you have someone who believes in you too.    

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