We all want a happy and fulfilling life. But the question is how do we find it? That joyful state of ikigai, or the intersection of doing what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs.
As a girl, there’s the added pressure of people telling you what you can and cannot be. If you’re dealing with self-doubt, you’ll need an assuring voice to remind you that you will find your way—in this case, through the stories of successful women who have gone through the same struggles you’re facing.
On this note, we welcome National Women’s Month with heartfelt “slam book” conversations with our #FutureOfYoungPinays ambassadors.
Here’s hoping you find the inspiration and advice you need to succeed in your own path.
A lot of people are afraid to speak out in front of a crowd, let alone express beliefs that might provoke backlash. But Kelsey Hadjirul was always one of the braver few. At just 10 years old, she first spoke at a Pride March. She stood before hundreds of people—her hands shaky while clasping her script (she was the only speaker at the event who had to rely on one). Nervous yet determined, Kelsey talked about the importance of LGBT rights and being a proud daughter of a lesbian mother. The audience cheered her on.
Her courage isn’t defined by the absence of fear or insecurity, but the awareness that there are more important battles to be won.
The now 15-year-old has since been vocal about her advocacies on LGBTQ+ rights, women rights, and human rights. In 2016, Kelsey represented the Philippines in the Cities for Life Summit in Paris, France after writing an article entitled, “Global Youth for City-wide Change.” Being raised by two moms—strong women in their own right—has shaped Kelsey into the brave and compassionate young woman she is today. Her conviction shines through in this Q&A, which she confidently answers in her native language.
As she talks about the things that inspire her, may you also find the inspiration to feel comfortable in your own skin and to stand up for what you believe in.
Favorite subject in school and why
Pagkamamamayan at Pagkakakilanlan – ang subject na ito ang nagtuturo sa aming bumabad at magkaroon ng pakialam sa mga nangyayari sa bansa.
What was your biggest insecurity as a student?
Bullying. Lesbiyana ang nanay ko at ginamit nila ito sa akin bilang insulto habang lumalaki.
What achievement are you most proud of during your school life?
Biggest achievement ko nang manalo ako bilang Makata ng Taon noong unang taon ko sa Raya [School].
What’s the most important thing you learned in your student life?
Maging higit sa sarili, gamitin ang mga kakayanan upang makatulong sa bayan. Maging mabuting tao at mamamayan
Favorite movie/ book/ music
Who’s your life peg? Why?
Si Frida Kahlo ang life peg ko. Paborito ko nang sabihin niyang ipinanganak [siyang] sabay ng Mexican revolution.
What are you passionate about? What excites you?
Excited ako sa maltesers [chocolates]. Medyo malabo pagkatapos kong magbigay ng statements about activism at revolution, pero maltesers talaga ang nagbibigay ng balanse sa buhay ko.
What’s your advice on finding and pursuing one’s passion and purpose?
Lahat ng magandang bagay ay pinaghihirapan. 🙂
What’s the hardest thing about being a girl?
What’s the best thing about being a girl?
Balanse, ang mga babae ay balanse. Kapag kailangang maging matapang, magiging matapang. Kapag kailangang maging masinsin, magiging masinsin. Kakaiba.
In your own words, what is gender equality?
[May] gender equality kapag malaya tayong lahat, walang takot at walang nararamdamang [anumang] panganib—mag-express man ‘yan ng mga nararamdaman o magmahal. 🙂
What’s something that makes you proud to be a woman this National Women’s Month?
Women’s march. Bilib ako sa kolektibong aksyon ng mga kababaihan. Talagang tinitibag ang stereotypes, talagang nakikipaglaban.
There’s a Swedish proverb about the magic that happens when we openly talk about our troubles and achievements: “Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
When we see the relatable struggles that other women face, our own obstacles seem less insurmountable. And when we hear about people who succeed, it sparks a confidence in us to work toward our own goals. Moreover, these success stories point us back to ourselves—with an encouraging inner voice that asks, “What are my strengths? What more can I achieve? And what achievements have I already made that are worth celebrating?”
Many, for sure.
The National Women’s Month Celebration every March is part of the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Day (IWD). Since 2017, the National Women’s Month in the Philippines has been highlighting the empowerment of women as contributors to and recipients of development.
Find more stories that will inspire you to be the best that you can be.