Maybe it’s just me. Because…well…it could just be me. But I wonder.
When I was a very young business woman, I sometimes cried…alone in my office or in the occasional ladies room bathroom stall. I found that I often cried because as a young twenty-something I was trying desperately to navigate a new world with a voice that was unfamiliar even to me.
You see, for so many years leading up to the start of my career, I had been a woman in a world of quiet. I am from a family where speaking your mind generally resulted in the punishment of silence. I was raised in a denomination where women were reminded to be quiet or be branded rebellious. And in an effort to survive as an abused child, I’d stayed so quiet for so long that the honesty of my own voice ws frightening when I finally heard it speak up on my behalf.
Through the years, I have proven my worth time and time again in business. It is not strange for a woman to have to prove over and over and over again that she is the right choice, a viable option, deserving. And often to do that that woman has to venture into what I lovingly refer to as “Patriarchville”.
Patriarchville is a land where men still look at a woman with hesitation if she is smart, capable, and excels at what she does. If she also happens to be funny, charming, and pretty, the village landscape can be all the more treacherous. But God help the woman that is all of those things AND opinionated. If she expects to be heard and taken seriously, she should also expect to be called a bitch from time to time or occasionally receive a verbal pat on the head from the men around her. She can also regularly expect that women who are peers or subordinates will speak about her with the men behind her back. And should she work where there are senior women, she can expect there to often be an undercurrent of competition.
Fast forward from my days as a young professional. Follow me through 15 years of showing up, working hard, proving myself, and being given new opportunities. Watch me as I learn to speak my mind, sometimes with tact…sometimes without. That’s me there digging deep and finding the courage to speak. See how often I am the only woman in the room, on the business trip, or making a decision. Notice the solitude that often comes with all of that and the fortitude it takes to smile & shine.
If you’d watched this channel for the 5 years leading up to my move to Denver, you’d have seen courage, naiveté, and a bit of a bluff.
If you watched this channel today…or anytime over the last 10 months in Denver…you’d see a harder edge, a chip on my shoulder, and the propensity to be suspicious.
This is a new place for me emotionally. And believe me when I tell you that I realize that this place is not me at my most effective or attractive.
Some context? I lived the most difficult year of my life prior to this move. I had not recovered from that year at all when I packed my things and moved to a new city. I was mourning the loss of so much from the last 2 years. The loss of things that cannot even be spoken aloud. And the loss of things that are easily seen and known elements to anyone who has walked through the last 2 years with me. Ultimately it is the loss of trust, the loss of security, the loss of where I believed my future would take me. A loss of certainty. A loss of some sweet young part of me.
The toll that takes on me professionally is that I cry. (And I get that it is also an unfair toll on the office full of good and decent men that work with me.)
I cry at times when I don’t want to. I cry at times when I don’t even feel terribly emotional. My voice will crack when I’m just trying to explain something or argue a position.
It is ridiculous. It is embarrassing. It is horrifying. Or is it? Does it feel like those things because it makes someone else uncomfortable or because society says those things are bad. One things for sure…
It is me. Authentic…real…March 2012 me!
My work is excellent. My confidence is high. My skills are sharp. I don’t fear the competition and I am not afraid of being outworked.
And still all too often my eyes leak and my voice gives way.
It will pass. I know myself and I know my own resolve. I feel a familiar peace sweeping over me. I also know how to quiet my mind and am finally able to hear my own voice above the doubt and loss.
For my friends near and far…I wonder daily if Denver is my final landing spot. There may be one or two more moves in me. But the chaos of this move is starting to melt into order…and with order, I expect to return.
As the tears dry up…I am returning to me. I am still fierce. I am still fun. I am still fabulous. And maybe I’ll buy a house in Patriarchville and mess with the valuation of the property.