Suzanne Mason Chen

Occupation: Writer/Researcher

Website: www.suzannemason.com

Instagram: sumasonchen

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

My passion is writing about our personal identity and how it relates to the meaning in our lives and our human nature. My path to identifying my passion took about ten years and it started as me searching for my own identity outside of work. I was in the corporate world and for over a decade, I was completely unhappy, unfulfilled and lost my sense of who I am. I was drawn to the art and science of who we are, and I just knew that I had to pursue it through research and writing.

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

If I had to choose one, she would be my grandmother. She had 10 children to fend for on her own, she was an entrepreneur and she had a strong spiritual core. She had only compassion for others and helped whoever she could even when she herself struggled at times. Despite circumstances, she had a strong sense of who she was and she maintained that no matter what.

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

As women and as the human race, we are at the best of times simply because many of us have the freedom to pursue what our hearts truly desire. We have the world at our fingertips but yet we still feel the lack in our lives. To truly become the person we know we can be, we must be grateful for all that we have already achieved and celebrate who we are today, and not pine for the person we have yet to become.

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

The last time I said something good about myself was when I recently scored high marks on an essay paper. I was immensely proud of my hard work and for once not as critical as I might have been in the past.

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

As women, we identify with being in the supporting role, being the one to take care of things both at home and at the workplace. There is a term Girl Friday which I personally do not care for, not because of the term itself but the implication that women should be happy with being tasked to do everything other than what she was hired to do at the workplace. Yet, many women are reluctant to challenge these obligations. This, I feel, stems from not acknowledging their own worth and capabilty. This is also why women struggle to celebrate and praise themselves.

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

I have a lot of pride in what I do and so I do not tend to discredit compliments. That said, I am my own worst critic so I have had to learn to first give myself credit for good work done.

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

There is a female comedian in her eighties named Lynn Ruth Miller. She grew up during a time when a woman was supposed to be a wife and mother, nothing more. She felt that was not the path she was destined to be on and she did not care about deviating from social norms even though that meant she was deemed a “failure” at the time. She is incredibly funny and secure about who she is and I am totally inspired by that.

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

I think that as women we need to work on that internally which would then change the external environment. Often, we are the ones who believe and accept the notion of ourselves as not being enough when others may not think the same. We self-sabotage by choosing to not fight for jobs that we know we deserve and also accepting the “supportive” role. We need to first reinforce that idea to ourselves by believing in our own capabilities and then bring that with us by speaking up and fighting for what we want.

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

No, I don’t think so. I think these days, the messaging for young girls and women have changed tremendously. A girl went from being told her worth is based on being a good wife and a mother to being a super career woman. Now, it seems like we are regressing because the young ladies of today are shown that the path to self-worthiness is superficial. They are conditioned to believe that they need to look and behave a certain way to make it, and making it means being liked online and being approved of by others. The message for young girls today should not be about fitting in the same mould with all the other girls by following the same makeup tutorials and glute exercises. It should be about figuring out who they are in themselves, not just about whether others will approve or follow them. It should be about what their abilities are and what makes them who they are.

WHAT WOULD YOU GO BACK AND TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF, TO ENCOURAGE SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-LOVE?
I would go back and tell myself that all the insecurities I felt were unfounded as there is no such thing as perfection and everybody else is too busy with their own insecurities and anxieties to give a toss about mine!

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

I believe that part of it is taught and part of it our own human nature. Our need for self-preservation is strong and often that means saving and doing what is best for ourselves. That said, if we grew up in an environment that is focused on one being better than the other than of course, we would learn to compete to earn the approval we crave.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?
It is important because we must support and celebrate each other. For real mindset change in what a woman’s role should be or how we measure own worth, we must start from the basics. Let go of our petty differences and insecurities, and instead focus on what makes us closer as people, not just as women.

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 find that it is easy to get wrapped in our perceived lack and our own crap, we are just humans after all. To let go of that, we need to appreciate what we have. If we are healthy, isn’t that already hitting the jackpot in a pandemic? If we still have the means to pay for food and a roof over our heads, aren’t we luckier than those who have lost their only source of income? Gratitude and perspective are key to not wallowing in negativity.