Purple background. Illsutrations of women peeping up at the bottom with hands raised.

WOMEN THAT SHAPED ME – By Lara Brittain

  • Silke Brittain (my mum)
  • Jordan Bruce (school rowing coach)
  • Charlie Taylor (university rowing coach/GB rower)
  • Zoe Ziaullah (best friend)

The first influential figures in my life were of course my parents, in particular my mum. Growing up hearing everyone around me saying how similar I was and I looked exactly like her and my grandma made me admire her even more. Growing up bilingual made me feel more connected to both sides of the family, as the majority of my mothers’ side only understand German. Nature versus nurture is a forever growing debate, I believe your mother usually has a large influence on how you grow up and this was no different with me. Having a good relationship with her has always been important to me and proves to everyone influential people aren’t always celebrities and can be right on your doorstep.

Appreciate the women close to you.

Throughout school I was a keen rower, my confidence in rowing was knocked back on a daily basis by the director of rowing telling me I was too small and would never be any good. Little did I know at the time, the head women’s coach was going through the exact same as me having constant verbal abuse from the men running the boat club. Throughout my last year at school, with her coaching, we went on to be the most successful boat in the club and proving everyone wrong. After this, we both went onto achieve better things away from school and since learning of each other’s struggles have become close friends.

Women are stronger than people think.

Another rowing coach who I look up to is Charlie. Having rowed for the GB team as a lightweight, which is something I aspire to do or work towards. Starting rowing at RUBC I have received a great amount of support and advice to help me improve my rowing physically and grow as a person. She has taught me that a positive mental attitude can often be more important than the training itself. Training your mind and telling yourself you can do it.

Positive mental attitude’s go a long way.

Zoe has always been so supportive of me and having friends of both genders I think is really important, getting perspective from different people shapes you as a person. Zoe has always been really strong no matter what life throws at her, overcoming more hurdles than most people her age. Already having a stable job and buying a house shows how far you can get from working hard no matter the situation and I really admire her for that. Having a best friend who is always by my side is and supporting each other is really important to me.

Support other women.

Although these aren’t the most well-known people, often those closest to you have more of an impact than someone labelled as influential by the media. International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate this and the women around you.

Who has shaped you in your journey? Let’s celebrate them today.

#ChoosetoChallenge #InternationalWomensDay

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