“She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.” (Proverbs 31:19)
Every girl should be able to make her own living if it becomes necessary. It is not wise for every girl to go out into the working world and there contend for her own livelihood, for many homes need the services of a loving daughter more than she needs the extra spending money that her work will bring. More unwise yet is it for women who should be housekeepers and homemakers to give their homes over to the hands of servants or close their doors altogether, to go forth to earn money for the money’s sake. But there are many women and girls whose circumstances compel them to be breadwinners, and not one girl knows that such will not sometime be her lot.
The field from which a girl may choose her lifework is much wider than once it was. In the days of our grandmother’s youth the girl who was forced to earn her livelihood had only two or three vocations to choose from beyond that of a house servant; but the girl of today has almost as wide a choice as her brother, for nearly every vocation that is open to him is also open to her. The act of choice therefore becomes harder, and more depends upon the girl herself.
If circumstances are such that the girl should stay in her own home and not become one of the breadwinners of the day, she should if possible prepare herself in some particular way so that in case of future need she could use her knowledge for gain.
There are many things to be taken into consideration by the girl who is making choice of her lifework. She wants to make a success, not only in her work, but in her life, so that as much good as possible will be the result of her having lived.
The first consideration with any girl is no doubt her own desires and tastes. What would be pleasure to one would be irksomeness to another, and no one can do her best at what is always unpleasant. Her next consideration will be her ability to do what she wants to do. Has she talent for that particular work? Are her health and physical strength sufficient to warrant her undertaking it? It would be foolish to give time and means in preparing for that for which one is naturally unfitted.
Another point to consider seriously is the associations into which her choice would lead her. She must remember that to fill her place in life she must be first of all a woman, with all that that can mean, and to undertake any work that would make her less womanly, less able to fill the ideals of real womanhood, would be both unwise and sinful. There are many things that a woman could do, but which in doing she would be thrown into company with all kinds of men in a way so intimate that she could keep neither their respect nor her own. Such a choice would be madness; for she would be destroying what in woman is the most beautiful—modesty and purity.
A work, to be worthy of a choice, should be needful, uplifting, and noble. No other choice is worthy the consideration of any girl. She should ask herself seriously: Will this work I intend to do make the world better, or help in any of its necessary toil? Shall I, in doing it, be doing my part in lifting the burdens of life? Will it make me a better woman for the doing, or at least leave me as good a woman as I am?
Life is not all made up of pleasure and frolic, and our work should be something that is of real service.
There is no work that is worthwhile and yet learned and performed without effort. Sluggards never make successes anywhere. The girl who would win for herself a place in the earning world must be ready to work long and hard.
There is no nobler profession for any girl to choose than that of a teacher. Her years of preparation will be filled with hard work and persistent efforts, and the performing of that work is both wearing and vexing; but the results can be great. Not only should the teacher guide her pupils in paths of knowledge, but also into ways of truth and uprightness. Her moral and spiritual influence for good can be great in the schoolroom, if she properly prepares herself for it and performs her work with the highest aims in view.
The artist and musician can bring much pleasure and happiness into the world through their gifts, happiness that need stir only the best that is in men and women. But this work is perfect only after long effort and persistent application.
The writer of books and short stories has a field before her which, followed in the right direction, can do much good in the world—but which, followed in another direction, will add only to the curse that is already in the world. The wrong kind of stories are better never written. The writer also meets much difficulty in getting started in life. Many who try never succeed. It is at best a long, hard way, but one that is pleasant indeed to follow by those who love to do that kind of work.
There are many openings for a girl in the business world that she can fill without detracting from her womanliness. Though it takes less preparation for business in the beginning, the work itself is one long school of hard work.
There is another class of work into which many young girls are forced by circumstances, work that makes them a living, and is honest enough, but which will not show the personality of the girl herself as do the professions I have been mentioning, and that work is such as is found in the factory, shop, or store. The girl who must do this kind of work can do well what she does, can fill a worthy place. But in the majority of cases the girls found here are doing only such work till the time when they shall go to life’s greatest responsibility, the making of a home.
There is a strong prejudice against the doing of housework for a living. This arises no doubt from the idea of servitude; but all work is service of one kind or another. There is no work that is more necessary or capable of bringing more real pleasure than housework. Any girl who can do this work will need not be ashamed of her calling. If she uses the spare moments she can find for study and reading, she need not let her mind starve, and become but a drudge, because this is her calling. All needful work is honorable if it is done well and for a good purpose.
A mistake that many girls make who must go out to work is that of neglect of home duties. They allow themselves to go on from year to year with no knowledge of household work. They cannot cook a good meal, nor make a garment; it would be impossible for them to do a washing and ironing properly, both for lack of skill and because of fatigue. Such girls, many of whom can hope to marry only poor men who are able to give them but a small allowance for household purposes, come to marriage without any knowledge of housework, or of the buying-value of money. Here is the cause of many home wrecks. Every girl should remember that first of all she is a woman, and the woman in her will desire and claim a home of her own someday, and if she is to be a success there she must make some preparation for that calling.
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