The Woman I Want to Be


By Javacia Harris Bowser

Lately, I’ve felt so uninspired and it’s hampered my ability to blog and to write and even to draft this very essay you’re reading right now. Because I help the women of See Jane Write, an organization for women who write and blog that I started in 2011, with this issue all the time I know exactly what my problem is: I lack vision. Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and you don’t need to be a Bible-reading, church-going gal to know this is true.

We all need to know our “Why?” We need purpose to stay motivated to do the things we do, from the monumental to the mundane.

I began 2017 with a clear vision of all I wanted to accomplish as a writer, blogger, teacher, and even as a feminist this year. But lately I’ve been questioning everything.

So I’m going back to the drawing board, as they say, and I’m rewriting my vision. I’m giving myself permission to slow down to make sure I know where I’m going.

But I don’t want to stand still. As Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, writes in her book She Means Business, “…you can’t steer a parked car.”

I need to get unstuck.

Green says that when she got moving she didn’t yet know what she wanted to do in terms of business, but she knew what kind of person she wanted to be.

So this is how I will get going. I will focus on the woman I want to be, and I was reminded of her when I attended last month’s Lean On: Alabama Lifestyle & Leadership Conference.

Lean On: Alabama is a non-partisan, non-profit organization seeking to bring together women of all ages to promote both personal and community development. The conference, which was held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, featured more than 30 sessions on topics ranging from women’s health, spirituality and faith to personal style, personal branding and entrepreneurship.

The conference boasted more than two dozen speakers, but there was one who, for me, needed no introduction. Her name is Dr. Jacqueline Morgan and she is the director of the Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

When I was a student at the University of Alabama, Dr. Morgan was the director of the UA McNair Scholars Program, a federally funded program designed to prepare undergraduate students for postgraduate studies. Participants are students who have demonstrated strong academic potential and are either first-generation college students with financial need or members of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education.

Through this program I did scholarly research and presented my findings at academic conferences throughout the country. I took my first trips to Chicago and Puerto Rico. But Dr. Morgan gave me something even more precious than my memories of San Juan. She helped me find confidence.

My experience with the program gave me the confidence to speak in front of large crowds and the confidence to apply to graduate school. It’s because of the McNair Scholars Program and Dr. Morgan that I have a master’s degree from UC Berkeley, one of the top public institutions in the nation. I even believe she deserves credit for the fact that nowadays I am frequently asked to speak at conferences, workshops, and other events and often paid to do so.

Dr. Morgan’s confidence is something I’ve always admired about her because it is contagious. When you’re around her you don’t feel small or overshadowed by her confidence; you feel like a better and stronger person because of it. And this is the kind of woman I want to be.

How fitting that her workshop at the Lean On: Alabama Lifestyle & Leadership Conference was titled “Becoming a Confident Woman: Compelling Research Shows the Way.”

Using academic research to support her advice, Dr. Morgan challenged us to redefine what it means to be a confident woman, because if we’re listening to society most likely we’ve got it all wrong.

A confident woman is poised and present. A confident woman doesn’t disparage others or herself. A confident woman is trustworthy and seeks out those she can trust because we all need safe spaces to share our struggles.

Dr. Morgan reminded us that people with a sense of worth are able to be more vulnerable. A confident woman is personable, not perfect.

Being a confident woman isn’t about being a woman who feels great about herself all day, every day. That’s impossible!

Confidence, Dr. Morgan explained, is belief in yourself that allows you to act.

I want to be a woman of action so that once I do rewrite my vision and revamp my goals, I can quickly get to work on making those dreams come true.

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