(ORWhen to tell the naysayers to shove it so you can pursue your dreams)
Today is March 4th, 2015. It marks the 32nd anniversary of Madam Justice Bertha Wilson’s appointment to the Canadian Supreme Court.
Sometimes I ask Google to tell me exciting things that happened on a particular day in history, okay?
And I’m glad I did, because Judge Bertha Wilson was INSPIRING.
Not only was she the first female appointed to the Canadian Supreme Court, but she went on to be highly influential in defining the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and made huge contributions to key decisions on reproductive rights, domestic violence, and divorce.
Bertha (yes, we’re on a first-name basis now) was born in Scotland, where she earned two degrees before immigrating to Canada with her Presbyterian minister husband in 1945.
I couldn’t find any information about what she did in the next nine years, but in 1954, when she was 31, Bertha inquired about applying for law school at Dalhousie University. The dean, Mr Horace E. Read retorted:
“Madam, we have no room here for dilettantes. Why don’t you just go home and take up crocheting.”
By the way, a “dilettante” is a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge–I looked it up.
Bertha must have pushed–no, fought–to follow her passion of becoming a lawyer.
Because of Bertha, women in Canada have reproductive rights, domestic violence laws, and much more status and freedom.
Can you imagine the bravery and integrity that must have took?
So many folks turn back from their dreams. I know I did.
I’ve always loved technology but creativity and people are what make my heart sing. For some reason, I was always encouraged to take the technical career route over the creative one.
It never occurred to me that I could combine the two.
So I went to school to learn very technical things (read that with your best Emma Thompson voice) and spend the next 10 years getting paid to do those very technical things. Even though it wasn’t really my 100% dream career.
After the internet bust, I couldn’t find a decent paying job. A lot of us techy geeks were stuck working for peanuts during that time. And to make matters even stickier, I was in a not-so-awesome relationship. My community of support was at an all-time low and I no longer recognized who I was.
So I made some wholesale changes…moved cities, left the relationship, and went back to university to study more creative, people-focused things at 26.
A few people in my life pushed back. In not-so-nice, Horace-E-Read-kinda ways. I totally could have listened to them, but I didn’t. Like Bertha.
If I hadn’t gone back to school, there’s no way I’d be doing what I’m doing now—designing beautiful WordPress websites for my smart and creative clients.
A lot of you have things you want to accomplish that influencers in your life don’t understand. Your partners, friends or family members might not totally value what you do.
Sometimes they even treat your work like it’s a hobby.
Good news: the internet gives you the tools to step out of the metaphorical craft fair.
With internet technology, you can take that seed of an idea and turn it into a wild and profitable business. You can pursue your dreams, create and sell anything you want, access an endless vault of information and training, and best of all? The internet can connect you to a strong supportive community.
But to make that happen we all need a strong set of Bertha Wilson ovaries. Bertha could have thought “You’re right, Mr. Read, it was a stupid idea. I’m just going to go back to being a minister’s wife.”
But she didn’t. Bertha fought for her dream and was relentless.
I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her, just like it ain’t always easy for us. In fact, it’s quite difficult to stand up to someone and fight for what you want.
To be relentless, do this:
- Get to know yourself. Understand who you are, what you care about, and what you need. Hold on to your belief in your goals and be integral to what YOU want to do.
- Learn when to tell the nay-sayers to shove it. Be able to distinguish between (good) advice and good advice for YOU. A supportive community will respect your decisions.
- Honour your dream. Understand that even though it can be scary, difficult, and unpopular, sometimes you need to be brave and stick it out (as my Papa Joe says to me. all the time.) in order to get where you wanna go.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know in the comments what YOU do to stay true to yourself and pursue your dream?
PS: You can read more about Bertha Wilson here. She’s cool.