RBG: One Woman’s Journey for Purpose

Do you know what your purpose is? Can we live a full life without one? Most importantly, have these questions crossed your mind?

A conversation with a friend some time ago helped inspire my own mission to finding purpose. A sort of private inquisition began to unfold for me. I asked myself so many questions. “What contribution can I make to the world that will make it better? What legacy will I leave the world after I’m gone? Did I touch people in a compassionate way? How will my loved ones remember me after I’ve moved on from the present world? How will I use what I’ve learned to help make a difference?

The questions were very real. It forced me to look within to figure out how I can contribute to society. The line of questioning took me on a series of exercises bringing me face to face with purpose. It became apparent that helping other women one connection at a time would be the best way for me to serve. If I can use my experiences to empower others. If I’m able to inspire one woman by sharing my stories then my purpose will have been fulfilled.

Starting the process was challenging. I wasn’t certain I knew myself enough to understand my strengths. Honestly, wasn’t sure I had enough to offer. Doubts were there, as to how I’d find the skills that would help me find answers. I decided to open my mind to the possibilities.

Today, I can tell you the more I read, the more convinced I am that we all have a purpose in life. Some are born with theirs while others find it through circumstance. Many of us stumble onto it like a drunken monkey on his way home. Plenty others never arrive due to a blind or selfish state of ignorance.

The other night, I watched the RGB documentary. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been respectfully (and affectionately) nicknamed “Notorious RBG.” She, in my opinion is a woman who understood her purpose from early age. She knew what she wanted, carving a path to help create gender equality. Her efforts pioneered a battle against gender discrimination. Justice Ginsburg continues her work today at the age of 85.

I’d known about RBG, however, seeing the documentary provided a true understanding of what she represents to society. How she has come to achieve her purpose.

Ruth Bader was born the year of 1933 in Brooklyn, New York.  She was always known to be reserved, polite but unafraid to speak out against injustice. In 1954, RBG received a B.A. in Government from Cornell University. She announced to parents her wishes to attend law school. It seemed she already had an innate desire to help society by studying law. Her time at Harvard Law School wasn’t a ride in the park. There were challenges along the way but she was determined to blaze a trail. She was 1 of 9 women in a class of 500 men. She met husband Martin (Marty) Ginsburg as an undergraduate at Cornell. They both went on to Harvard. The couple married, having their first born while still in law school. She had her work cut out for her burning at both ends. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer while their child was 14-months old. The drive to finish what she started only gave her more strength to care for her family while in school. She upheld the role of wife and partner to Marty. He was able to depend on her for help to continue his studies while ill. They successfully recovered from the crisis. The Ginsburg’s proceeded to graduate then move on to Columbia Law School from where she received a law degree with top honors in 1959. Unbelievably, no law firm would hire RGB despite her legal skills. Gender was an impediment but she continued to push full steam ahead until finding a clerkship with a federal judge.

The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of hardship for females. Applying for credit required a husband as co-signer. Women could potentially be fired for being pregnant.  The suggestion of prosecution for marital rape was unheard of. Women’s equal rights were nonexistent at the state and federal level hindering our gender from acquiring any type of fair treatment.  RBG decided to utilize her legal talents to help the movement, bringing light to gender law. In 1966, she began her undertaking. Her achievements include teaching at both Rutgers School of Law then Columbia University as first tenured professor. She won 5 of 6 gender discrimination cases presented in front of Supreme Court. During the 70’s her service as director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was instrumental in the battle for women’s rights. She was appointed to the US Supreme Court of Appeals District of Columbia by Jimmy Carter in 1980. In 1993, Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court. The second women confirmed to the bench.

The list of accomplishments is endless, too many to describe in a single article. The wonderful part of this story was learning that her realization as a professional was enhanced by the wins in her personal life. She didn’t have to give up her identity or aspirations on the path to a purpose. She enjoyed a marriage of 56 years with the love of her life before his death in 2010. She faced her own health crisis beating cancer twice without missing a day on the bench. Her candor for life is evident in her work. While her weekly workouts are used for mental and physical endurance.

RBG is the epitome of an intelligent, willful and compassionate woman. Relentless in her pursuit to make a difference for those encountering discrimination. She follows her passion conquering all types of resistance that could have discouraged her from continuing. Instead she remains strong and forceful against everything that could brand a female inferior.

A purpose is bigger than yourself. It’s fire ignited in your soul leading you to make changes that affect other people’s lives outside of your own. Once we come in contact with that power it can’t be denied. If you encounter it, embrace it because it will drive everything you do. Making your life much more satisfying.

What is your purpose? When does your personal journey begin?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed on September 18, 2020*

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