Welcome to Real Women Wednesday
It’s Wednesday and to get you through the week, here is another RWW. I created this series to empower, inspire and connect women. Every Wednesday, a new Q&A with a remarkable woman who I’ve connected with and/or admire appears on my blog. It’s my way of showing the realness that it means to be a woman.
The empathic, soft AND powerful sides of us that need to be shared and celebrated.
This Wednesday’s woman is Cassandra Jeffery. I met Cassandra when I first moved to Kelowna. She and I worked in the same newsroom and we bonded over our love for Gilmore Girls, wine and nachos. Although we were only in the same province for a couple of months before she moved away, I knew we would be good friends. Cassandra is one of the most inspiring women I have ever met.
She is a crazy talented writer, a deep thinker, a wine drinker and a great listener. I honestly feel so thankful for Cassandra because she shows me what true friendship is. I look forward to seeing Cassandra and having conversations with her.
I knew I wanted Cassandra to take part in this series because she words are strong. I knew her answers would be well thought out and powerful. She did not disappoint.
Who are you?
I’m a human being with flaws, infinite ambition, and a lot to learn. A 26-year-old dreamer, a perfectionist, and a perpetual fulfilment-seeker. I’m also a writer, a student, a political junkie, and an avid critical thinker. Beyond that, I’m still trying to figure out who I am. But most importantly, I try to stay to true to my values: be kind, listen attentively, speak with intention, don’t assume, and practice empathy.
What do you want to be remembered for/as?
I want to be remembered for using my words.
Whether it’s written or spoken, words have power, and I would like to tell stories that create change. The sharing of contrasting opinions and thoughts is imperative to progress, and understanding diverse perspectives elicits empathy. More than that, a genuine awareness of different perspectives in your vicinity allows you to form an opinion and a judgment grounded in fact, not assumption.
I want to be remembered as an individual who clearly and thoughtfully uses language to evoke truth.
Being a woman means…
In my opinion, being a woman means being yourself in whatever capacity best represents your individuality, and to do so without reservation. However, it also means acknowledging your position, your privilege, and sequentially, your power.
My gendered position in society influences, and at times dictates, how I dress, act, speak, and think. It creates a realm of possibility within the context of obtainable achievements, goals, expectations, and desires based on the fact that I am biologically a woman, and tend to desire biological men. I am cognisant of this reality. I am aware that there are societal factors that have and will continue to influence my decisions in life. My choice to have children, my choice to pursue a challenging and time consuming career, my choice to express myself as I see fit: these are decisions I will make independently, and yet I know I will also be judged a particular way based on how my culture and society perceives my sex and my gender.
Understanding this reality is important because it allows myself, as not only a woman but Cassandra Jeffery, to acknowledge the valid opinions and perspectives of other women.
It’s about evaluating your obstacles in life, recognizing your privilege, and then being a part of the solution to create powerful change in our disproportionate world.
Tell me about a time you failed. How did you handle that?
I have failed too many times to count, and I don’t often handle the situation all that well. A failure that stands out at this point in time would be a relationship failure. I wasn’t mature enough to understand what I wanted and needed in a romantic partner, nor was I able to communicate my transgressions to my partner. The ramifications of this experience crippled me emotionally.
I dealt with the failure selfishly at first, and of course dramatically. But as time passed and the issue continued to rear its ugly head in virtually all facets of my life, I turned inward and starting dealing with my internal issues head-on. How do I handle failure? I try to confront failure right away and move on with my life.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment in life so far?
My biggest accomplishment in life so far would have to be all of the stories and life lessons I’ve acquired while travelling. And I’m not just talking about travelling around the world, but even discovering new Canadian communities has taught me so much.
I’m not one for material wealth, but the wealth of knowledge and insight I’ve gained from simply meeting new people and hearing their stories has helped to shape the person I am today. I make it a priority to push myself beyond what I perceive to be comfortable boundaries, and if I say so myself, I’ve had a pretty great start at it.
What did you want to be when you were a kid? Are you that now?
From the ages of about seven until 12, I was deadest on being a paleontologist. Something about digging in the dirt for fossils got me going—that or my obsession with Jurassic Park.
At the ripe old age of 15, I discovered Gilmore Girls, and with it Rory’s passion for journalism. Since that time, that career path has pretty much stuck. I love writing, listening, and helping to ensure all voices are heard, so naturally, I assumed the whole journalism bit was a shoo-in. But as I’m realizing in our current over-saturated, click-bait world of media, reporting is a tough gig. I’ve worked as a journalist before, and who knows, maybe I’ll work in media again, but for now, I’m shifting gears a bit. What’s most important is that I keep writing, be it in different industries or just for myself.
How do you manage to stay your authentic self in a world dominated by social media and digital highlight reels?
It would be a total missed opportunity if I didn’t quote Ice Cube here: “Check Yo Self.”
It would be so easy for me to compare my life to people on social media, or even those in my social circle, but what’s even easier is indulging in the parts of my life I genuinely enjoy. What’s important or interesting to me, might not be intriguing to someone else, and that’s okay. Being yourself is about checking those interests and motives every day.
Travel is a large part of your life. What’s the biggest lesson you have learned while living abroad?
That I’m capable.
My first solo excursion was to Germany when I was 20 years old. I was in my fourth year of university and I moved to Mannheim—south of Frankfurt on the border of France—as part of an exchange program. It was my first time outside of Canada by myself, and I was brimming with excitement over the possibilities of travelling Europe. I was lucky enough to have a very dear friend of mine living in Mannheim, so right from the start, I felt comfortable and welcomed. As time pressed on, however, mental health issues that I had tried to smother we’re beginning to surface in the face of erupting homesickness and depression. An eating disorder that I had been battling with for years was now at its peak, and I felt utterly lost and alone. It was during this time that I realized I had two options, figure it out or admit defeat and go home to Canada. Long story short, I stuck it out, confronted my issues, and realized that I am a capable human being.
After returning home from Europe, I moved around Canada and eventually made my way to Malaysia. It had always been my dream to travel and live in South East Asia, and it was in part my experience in Germany that reminded me nothing is beyond my grasp. I wanted to move to Malaysia, so I packed a bag and moved. Everything else sorted itself out. With that mentality I managed to swim in the Indian Ocean late at night with a bunch of friends in South Africa; I watched the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and I cultivated lasting and impactful relationships with people I now consider family.
A very dear friend of mine once told me that life is about setting yourself goals—outlandish or practical—and then recognizing that you’re capable of accomplishing those goals. Once you’ve reached that goal, it’s time to set another one. To me, that’s living life in a nutshell.
What’s your favourite non-physical attribute?
I always try to listen attentively, and I’m always sharpening my critical thinking skills.
Who inspires you?
This question is such a tough one for me because there are just so many people in my life that inspire me.
For starters, I worship the literary minds of authors such as Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison. Their prose, style, content, intellect, and artistry—their stories have made such an impact on my life, and I only hope that one day I may contribute to society in a similar fashion.
In terms of people I have actually met in the flesh and blood, there are just too many to name. Every person in my life adds value in one way or another. I’m inspired by what I can learn from other people.
How do you show empathy to someone who doesn’t share the same views as you?
I listen to what they have to say. Not everyone will share my views, but as long as you are discussing your perspective in a respectful, safe, and constructive way, then I want to hear what you have to say.
No one is perfect, including myself. But it’s about understanding yourself, explaining your opinions with fact and reason, and admitting when you might be wrong. That’s how we grow as individuals.
If you could share one sentence with a woman who doesn’t feel like she’s being heard right now, what would you say?
You can’t control anyone else but yourself, so turn inwards: ask yourself why is it that you don’t feel like you’re being heard, and consider your actions. After a little reflection, shout louder in whatever way works best for you, because your voice deserves to be heard too.
Wow! What a woman. I hope you got something out of this interview like I did.
I want to say thank you to Cassandra for being a part of this series. Like I said before, I knew Cassandra’s words would have a lot of meaning and lessons to them. To follow Cassandra online, check out her blog A Pen To Paper.
Are you wanting to read previous RWW posts? Catch up here.
If you’d like to be featured on Real Women Wednesday, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to me on social media. My handle is @thebookofmolly.