During the pandemic, we experience a flurry of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) similar to how we navigate our personal and professional lives. FUD prevents us from taking risks and living the lives we dream. Complacency sets in and every day feel the same with little hope of change. However, with change comes opportunity. Many of us find ourselves wading in the waters of indecision. Although, as we grapple with the pandemic’s uncertainties, those quandaries springboard us into rebirth.
Looking into the past gives visibility into our future. The trailblazing 1920s Flappers – the women who redefined fashion and rose up from traditional household roles to be in the workplace – were denoted as the first generation of independent women. They broke barriers. After the 1918 pandemic, the household mavens of the Roaring Twenties re-emerged with a desire to earn a paycheck while tending to their families. They took advantage of opportunities beyond wearing an apron.
Women slayed the dragons for their future sisterhood, paving the way for equality. The Roaring Twenties was an era of hope as women rematerialized from unprecedented times. Women’s fashion complemented their spirit of movement – from dancing the Charleston to feeling empowered outside the home. As their hemlines allowed for more movement, so did their spirits. Their voices were heard.
The women of the Roaring Twenties gave us encouragement to not let FUD get in the way. They forged ahead, creating positive momentum which led to the women’s right to vote, fashion trends, and paying careers. Even though roles have evolved over the past century, society needs to continue to showcase successful female professions to keep our aspirations in reach. If we see flourishing female roles, we can aspire to become them. It is up to our generation to carry the torch, strengthen the flame, and not lose sight of our career dreams, even if the pandemic has dimmed our light.
Because of pandemic stressors, more women are leaving the workforce. Instead of climbing the corporate ladder, we are descending in search of balance. We feel sandwiched between our careers and families. The biggest differentiator between women’s evolution over the last century will be defined by the ones playing tug of war between their professional and motherly duties. In 2020, women held just over 50% of paid jobs in the United States vs. a decade ago. However, we saw women leave the workplace whether they left on their own accord or lost their jobs. Already removed from the workplace, it minimized their risk of reinvention and allowed time for reflection.
Lindsey Seavert of Minneapolis, MN is among the over 2.2 million women who recently left the workforce realizing she needed more flexibility to execute distance learning during the pandemic. She left a two-decade career as a reporter and started her own business. She focuses on freelancing and documentaries she produces on her own time, nestled between mastering her children’s eLearning, doctor appointments, and making certain dinner is on the table. As her homefront to-do list grows, so does her entrepreneurial spirit.
“We are all pressed with limited capacity right now, but if there’s anything that I have learned from my decades as a journalist, it’s that following the light has yet to fail me,” said Seavert. “I’ve always clung to stories centered around hope, or tales of the triumphant underdog. I’ve learned to listen, recognize these moments, and right now, I have realized I need to live my own story.”
Hope. It keeps us going. We cannot lose sight of taking a risk as we paint our own portraits during this season of life. There is good that comes from a pandemic – stronger sisterhood tribes are formed; people’s resilience grows, and they hope to take that leap of faith into the unknown enriches. We must remain curious and courageous. All-the-while tapping into our H.O.P.E. – Heroines of our 2020 era reinventing ourselves in search for more balance | Optimism for our souls | Perseverance to overcome our challenges | Empowerment to be our best selves.
2021 marks a season of renewal. The Flappers taught us anything is possible if we ignite the fire in our bellies. Fast forward to the 2020 presidential election which brought us our first female Vice President-elect. We owe gratitude towards the women of the 1920s who began to pave the way. Ultimately, their courage gave women a voice. It is our duty to continue to break the glass ceiling for our legacy and shine a light on H.O.P.E. for our future.
Let’s raise a glass of courage and toast to nurturing our families and career aspirations – to taste the feeling of fulfillment.
This article is dedicated to Marion Eleanor Hunter (born in the Roaring Twenties) who passed away on December 11, 2020, one day after her 93rd birthday. “Auntie Marion” was a heroine of her time – a working single mother who lived her life with H.O.P.E., love, strength, fashion, and grace.
About the author: Follow me at www.gaylekeller.org (launching Spring 2021)
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