Underneath the rock-hard demeanor lies solid perseverance.
Sometimes the obstacles on our road just seem too many, or too difficult. You may even feel that you’ve failed. But pearls teach us that with determination and hard work, no setback needs to be a failure – there is always a pearl to emerge. We believe that people are like oysters and that we can channel our energy in such a way that we take an ordinary – sometimes even a difficult – life with all the usual setbacks and turn it into a pearlescent legacy. In honor of this unique human quality, we are publishing a series looking at women who have lived (or are living) their lives like pearls. This is another installment of the Living like a Pearl series. Find the other stories here.
You may know her as the lady who failed to deliver Britain their ‘Brexit’ deal. Or perhaps, for the more fashion-conscious, the one who always wore eye-catching large, shining beads in parliament (they say she’s always been fashion-conscious and once said that if she could choose one luxury item on a deserted island, it would be a subscription to Vogue). But no, Theresa May is not being featured for either her Brexit headache or her fashion sense. May has one thing that stands out to anyone who believes in the enduring life lesson that pearls teach us: perseverance.
She was raised in Oxfordshire in England and according to those who know her, have always been politically-minded. From a young age, she was determined to be the first female prime minister. When Margaret Thatcher became the first, she was apparently ‘irritated’. But – as we all know – May didn’t allow that to steal her dream.
She started small. While studying, she worked in her local bakery to earn pocket money. Her first job was in finance at the Bank of England, and later at the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS). Her first foray into politics entailed serving as councilor for the Durnsford ward on the Borough Council of the London Borough of Merton.
Before becoming the second female prime minister of Britain, she had at least three unsuccessful attempts. In 1992, when she was the Conservative Party candidate, she placed second to Hilary Armstrong. In 1994 she placed third. She only entered parliament in 1997, but that year her party suffered one of the worst defeats in recent memory. If one didn’t know where she was heading, it could easily have been seen as a steady decline. Even once she was in office, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. While she was in office, she suffered several resignations in her cabinet. She was challenged as a leader (but won) and her popularity went in decline. She also did not manage to extricate Britain from the European Union.
Despite all this, she not only achieved her dream of becoming the prime minister of Britain but also managed to achieve some significant things while in office: She forced companies with more than 250 employers to reveal the average pay of men and women; she increased the National Health System in Britain by 20.5 million pounds (26,15 million dollars or about 3,4% per year) and implemented a 25-year environmental plan that will see to it that no more petrol or diesel cars are sold by 2040.
Of these achievements, the biggest is surely that her spirit was not crushed by the time in office. Since her time at 10 Downing Street, she has devoted her time to her constituency of Maidenhead, Berkshire. She is also considering writing a book, “so that historians can look back and see what those who were at the center of events were thinking, why they took decisions and so forth.” She says she has no regrets over her political career – and she considers it still active. Most recently she expressed her disapproval when the Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, was found out to have broken lockdown rules in Britain.
Who knows what the history books will one day say about Theresa May? Only time will tell. But one thing is sure: the world and its problems won’t snuff out this go-getter’s career.