It was an afternoon to remember on Saturday, 15 September as The Great Women of Our Time Forum kicked off at WorkCentral – a co-working space in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District – which was generously transformed to accommodate our guests and six amazing panelists.
The Forum is an initiative born out of the desire to share the knowledge accumulated by our past Great Women of Our Time Awards nominees and friends of The Weekly by giving them a platform to speak out about their experiences – both good and bad – in the hopes that it will empower and inspire others.
This year, Dr Jade Kua, Maddy Barber, Yvon Bock, Velda Tan, Dr Fock Ee-ling and Tan Su-Lyn graced us with their presence and shared their stories of the trials and tribulations they have face both in their professional and personal lives.
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What Does It Mean To “Have It All”?
Our first panel touched on the subject of having it all. Women often want to thrive in all aspects of their lives especially when it comes to their careers and their family life. But juggling these two worlds leaves many exasperated. So is the notion of having it all a myth? And if not, how are women doing it and doing it successfully?
Great Women of Our Time Awards alumnae, Yvon Bock of Hegen and Dr Jade Kua, Founder of DARE, were joined by Maddy Barber of KISS 92fm to tackle this topic. Here were three key takeaways from their session:
Sacrifices are par for the course. “They always say ‘Nothing worth having is easy’ so it’s inevitable that I have had to give up some things in order to gain others. Though for me, it’s important to keep at the back of mind the things that I will never sacrifice. One thing I’m very clear about is that I will never sacrifice my family. I guess I’ll sacrifice my friends! Some people are just emotional vampires so those people I’ve had to drop along the way,” exclaims Maddy Barber.
Try to give yourself a break. “Sometimes it’s the definitions that we give ourselves of what a successful woman is supposed to be like that make it hard, like ‘Oh, if I didn’t achieve this, this and this by this age, that means I’ve failed. I’ve had to rethink this concept and learn to be more authentic to myself. There is no perfect line, sometimes it’ll lean more towards family and sometimes it’ll lean more to work,” confesses Yvon.
Find your own definition of happiness. “If I had to give up my day job and stay at home with my kids, I would be fine with that. You don’t necessarily have to do 10,000 things to feel like you are fulfilled. You can be fulfilled by just doing a single thing well or simply doing nothing at all. It’s what you are capable of doing in that moment of time that counts, and it’ll be different for everyone. The trick is to figure out what’s important to you,” says Dr Jade.
Ways To Deal With Inevitable Mum Guilt
Moving onto the second topic of mum guilt, Great Women of Our Time alumna Tan Su-Lyn of The Ate Group sat down with Velda Tan of COLLATE The Label and Dr Fock Ee-ling of The Missing Piece to get very candid and real about this emotion that simply comes with the job of being a mother.
According to a UK survey, guilt about juggling motherhood and a career (or putting a career on hold to stay at home with the children) is one of the hardest to contend with. This is what our panellists had to share about their experience of guilt as a mother:
Guilt is a perpetual state. “I think guilt happens the moment you become a mother because you’re never certain that you’re doing the right thing. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mum or a working mum, there’s always the guilt. Can I think of a specific instance? When I’m at work I feel guilty that I’m not with them being a hands-on mother but honestly when I’m with my kids, I feel guilt because I’m not in the office. You can’t ever win,” says Su-Lyn.
Use your time with your child wisely. “I felt a lot of guilt when I stopped breastfeeding at the 7-month mark. I felt a whole wave of emotions when I decided to stop, but I just told myself that I’ll give myself a week to deal with it, then I won’t think about it anymore. I think compartmentalising my emotions really helps with dealing with the guilt,” shares Velda.
Strategise your one-on-one time together. “The struggle is in trying to find the balance in spending the same amount of time with each child. Each of my three kids is so different, their needs are so different, their personalities are so different, their struggles and their weaknesses are different. So, I realised that I really had to find disciplined ways to set one on one time with them,” Ee-ling says.
At the end of it all, we hope our readers were ultimately inspired by the wisdom they received during the two sessions; and will go on to inspire others in their own way. After all, women make the best supporters of other women and the Forum served as a timely reminder of that. If you missed the festivities, view a gallery of the event below:
The Great Women of Our Time Awards 2018 is made possible by main presenter, Lancôme, and presenter, PANDORA.