Lelia Leite

Occupation: Blogger by Passion/ Personal Assistant by Trade

Website: www.MusingsandDeeds.com

Instagram: musingsanddeeds

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND  RESPECT, AND WHY? 

I think all of us have those women that we admire because they are financially independent or have been pioneers in their field. However, the woman I will eternally admire is my mother not because she was financially successful or her achievements impressive to the world but because she was strong. 

My mother raised 5 girls by herself. She barely had any formal education and worked whichever job she could get. She struggled financially but she never gave up, she never said she couldn’t do it or that it was too much for her. My mother just did what needed to be done. We had a modest life but she made our Christmases and birthdays exceptional. She had no education but pushed us all to be the best we could so that we wouldn’t have the same struggles as her. She showed us that even if the odds stack against you, you must never give up. She is now an eighty-year-old woman and even with her health issues, she is still fighting. For all these reasons and more I admire her and always will. 

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY? 

I have a voice. Women have a voice that needs to be heard. By supporting each other we are telling women that your voice is important, it has a place in the world and it is unique. Who we are today, with the good and the ugly, with the accomplishments and imperfections needs to be celebrated because it is part of us. By highlighting who we are we can inspire other women and show them that they are not alone. 

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/ HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? 

For about a year I struggled with the idea of starting a blog. I would start the process and I would doubt myself. However, I did not see it as doubts, it was subconscious. I would come up with a variety of excuses as to why I shouldn’t do it. 

A couple of months ago, after some conversations, and a lot of reflection, I said to myself “this is not who you are, you do not shy away from hard work you face it” 

Years ago, I joined a theatre working in set construction. I did not know anything. I barely knew the tools, never mind how to build something. However, I did not let that stop me. I faced my fears, I learned, and by the time I left there, I could build, I could paint and I could weld. I had to remind myself of who I was. Yes, I have fears, I think we all do but I face them and I try. I have since started my blog and I couldn’t be happier that I did not allow fear to stop me. 

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH? 

I believe it is a double standard that is so ingrained in us that we, at times, do not see it. If a man praises himself, he is confident and knows his worth. If I, a woman, praise my self, I’m showing off. 

Society will see me as arrogant and will even go as far as telling me that I will push away those around me. I have in the past been told that I am intimidating because I was showing confidence and this is what I believe happens to many women. To avoid the negative connotations that come with praising ourselves, we suppress those moments and qualities that we should and need to celebrate. 

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN? 

I will be honest and admit that it is a constant struggle for me to this day. 

I am aware that the compliments I get are because I deserve them, but there is that little voice that once in a while will pop up and make me doubt. It is a battle, but I do realise now, that I am older, that it is a battle worth fighting. 

WHO WAS THE FIRST FEMALE TO TEACH YOU OR INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL THAT #YOUAREENOUGH? 

Growing up in a household full of women, we were always each other’s support system. But because they are so close to me, I would sometimes dismiss it as “they are family they must say that.” 

It was when it came from the outside that I started to believe it. 

My friend Julie is one of the smartest women I know. She is kind, articulate, and beautiful. And to my surprise, she would see those qualities and more in me. I would doubt myself and she would literally argue with me to convince me that I could do it. 

Until today if I need a word of encouragement or a push I know I can contact her and she’s always there for me. This woman that in my eyes is so smart, talented, and creative saw in me something that I did not see. I started believing that maybe there is something in me and if she could see, and I trust her then it must be true. 

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK? 

We, as women, have a place in this world but it is not easily given to us. When we are young we are told to sit with our legs crossed but boys sit sprawling out across the seat. This is just one of many examples of society telling us from a young age that we, shouldn’t take too much space in the world, unlike our counterparts who are told to take as much space as they need. 

We can take that power back by educating ourselves and by teaching our youth that we are equal because we all, men and women, need to learn it and believe it. We can change it by empowering women to raise their voices, to speak their truth, and to share their experiences because they are valid. 

ARE WE TOLD ENOUGH AS YOUNG GIRLS THAT #WEAREENOUGH? IF NOT, HOW CAN WE CHANGE THIS MESSAGING FOR YOUNG GIRLS TODAY? 

I do not believe that we as young girls are told enough that #weareenough but I do see that it is better now than it was when I was young. However, we still have a long way to go. We need to show young girls that their interests are valid rather than try to make them fit into a box. We need to show them that it is okay if they differ from what convention tells them they should be. We need to teach our girls that they are capable, that they should follow their dreams and fight for what they want. 

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE? 

If I could go back I would tell my younger self to believe a little bit more. On many occasions, I listened to the naysayers and did not follow my dreams. It wasn’t until I was in my mid to late twenties that I really started to believe and chase the life I wanted. 

I would also say to my young self that it is okay to put yourself first and that it is not selfish. If you live your life trying to accommodate others, you will build a life that is not truly yours but a reflection of what others wanted. 

WHERE DO YOU THINK THE NEED TO COMPETE WITH OTHER WOMEN COMES FROM? IS IT TAUGHT? 

I think it is implied rather than taught. Because there are so few great opportunities given to women. We as women, end up seeing it as if there are limited slots and it because a competition as to who will get that place. If there were more opportunities for women the need to compete with each other would decrease substantially. 

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT? 

THE TRIBE movement is important because there is strength in numbers. My voice alone may not have the same impact as my voice echoed by many. As a movement, we stand strong, we support and empower each other and our voice is louder. Collectively, as a tribe, we feel that our reach is limitless. 

HOW ARE YOU TRYING TO KEEP YOUR SELF-ESTEEM UP IN THE MIDST OF THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS READING THIS?

I am keeping my self-esteem by focusing on what is important for me. Put aside what others want or expect from you and focus on you. Whether this means taking care of yourself physically or just following a goal that you always had such as starting a business. It is okay to put yourself first. 

This pandemic has shown us how unpredictable life can be and if you wait for the perfect time, or for the stars to align that time may never come. Use this time, when the whole world has slowed down, to focus, plan it, and chase it. I would advise you to do now whatever it is that you have been dreaming of or hoping for and take that leap of faith.