“Meddling,” my husband said after consulting dictionary.com to try to settle an argument, “is a bad thing.”
I put my headphones back on, not acknowledging what he considered a win. Sure, a meddler isn’t invited to address an issue, but that doesn’t mean she can’t help make it better with her unique skills. After meeting Maaria Mozaffar – civil rights attorney, policy drafter and author of More Than Pretty – who describes herself as a “meddler,” I can’t help but see the descriptor as good.
“I think everybody has the ability to have empathy and step in others’ shoes, but not everybody pays attention to it,” Mozaffar told me on this week’s episode of #WeGotGoals. “I paid attention to it since childhood … that it made me very satisfied.”
And as we conversed our way through her accomplishments for the podcast, Mozaffar shared how her natural draw towards helping others shaped her life.
Mozaffar saw a future in which she would use her powers of meddling as an attorney, to ensure justice for those who couldn’t always stand up for themselves. First, though, there was the little matter of passing the bar exam. She tried—and failed, five times. Rather than doubt her intelligence and abilities, though, she put the situation in perpective.
“Real life and application of the law and advocacy for the law is not a multiple choice test – such as life is not a multiple choice test,” she said. Resilience is a natural result of failure in the face of a big goal and when she took the test a sixth time, she succeeded at her mission to take home the license she needed to practice.
After passing the bar exam, she continued her work in policy and advocacy, inserting herself into the issues where she could impact the most people: rights at the borders, the travel ban and food deserts. Along the way, she also took notice of how women viewed themselves and their success, developing the ideas that would lead to her book More Than Pretty.
In the book, she explores issues relating to beauty, intelligence, social media (and selfies) and how strong women navigate a world where their worth may seem determined more by how they look than what they contribute.
“If I want [my three kids] to have a good example of what a strong woman is, a strong mom is, I can’t just tell them about it – I have to be that,” she said.
And a natural way to show your children exactly how strong you are is to add “triathlete” to a list that already includes “she who stands up for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Mozaffar describes the sport of triathlon as a way to keep her body strong and feeling good to allow her to “contribute to society.”
“Triathlons are uniquely interesting because triathlons are like life, right? It doesn’t matter if you’re first. It doesn’t matter if you’re last. The only thing that matters is that you cross the finish line smiling,” she said.
Listen to the episode of #WeGotGoals and get the book by Mozaffar (which she used as a tool to raise money for an organization she loves, The United State of Women, for the first month it was on sale). And if you like what you hear, be sure to rate it and leave a review.