Tag Archives: Women

Astericking Ourselves

I play co-ed softball every Wednesday night. Of course, there are more men than women playing. More often than not, the girls play the “easier” positions and bat further down in the lineup. I suppose that fine if it’s based on ability. Game after game, I watch the men walk confidently, making plays and cheering all of their teammates on. They believe the women can play…it’s the ladies who consistently downplay their abilities.

For most of the games, I play catcher, which means I interact with the batters. While there are outliers, the majority of the female hitters get into the box and immediately doubt themselves. “I’ll feel better once I hit the ball pass the pitcher…” “I just want to make contact, I don’t care if I make an out.” I promise you these are direct quotes. It takes all my energy to not to say something! Like I mentioned in my last post, what we think is what we become. I wish these women would believe in their abilities just an ounce more…

My co-ed softball league is one small example. I’ve seen this play out on a bigger stage, like on a panel at a conference. I watched many successful women with meaningful careers asterisk themselves in front of hundreds of OTHER WOMEN who PAID to be there. Let me share some examples from the panel and elsewhere:

  • “I’m sorry if I’m talking to much about XYZ experience..” She said this to a room full of people who PAID to hear about THESE EXACT EXPERIENCES.
  • “I’m sorry we’re having so much fun up here..” Because fun is a bad thing? Especially between two bad ass women? *Insert eye roll*
  • In the subject line of an email: “Notes + Next Steps (sorry this email is so long)..” Wait, you’re apologizing for giving us information we need for the project? Can we all see how crazy this is?!

As women, we asterick ourselves and apologize for everything: Doing our jobs, living our best lives, working hard. I don’t want to hear an I’m sorry from another woman unless she ate my lunch out of the office fridge or murdered someone. Here’s what happens when we continue to “a word” all over ourselves.

  • Our credibility goes out the window. Think about it written out. Would you put an * saying this isn’t really my experience, I didn’t really work hard for this on your resume? I bet not.
  • By saying sorry all the time, when we actually need to apologize (it happens!), the words have lost their meaning. It’s like the boy who cried wolf.
  • By using the “when I” phrase, we’re letting life pass us by. I’ll do this when I’m [skinner, smarter, etc.]. Will you? Why not try it today? Sure, you should train for a 5K if you’re not a runner. We let fear paralyze us into inaction.

The silver lining with astericking and apologetics is that we’re not alone. I personally believe it’s how the majority of women are wired. What that gives us is a community of women who can generate awareness and help each other rise above the fear and insecurity. At work, ask for feedback from someone you trust. Before you blurt out an apology, pause to reflect on what you’re apologizing for. Did you hurt someone? Were you intentionally unkind? You don’t need to dim your light so others can shine. We can all shine together! And anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t worth your energy.

Believe me, I don’t get this right everyday. I still have to hold back from apologizing for being my extroverted, outgoing self. With awareness and a top notch girl gang who holds me accountable, I’m making progress. Come join me and put the apologizing behind you.

You Belong Here

Hello my friends! It’s been an inspiring, grueling, jam-packed two weeks. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around everything that’s happened, all of the amazing people I’ve met and the stories I’ve shared.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I spoke on a panel at the Superwomen Summit almost two weeks ago. I can’t begin to describe how phenomenal the entire weekend was. Take a look at the lineup and Google all of the speakers. Each brought her unique perspective while still being herself. That was the best part of the entire event: These women were attainable, real and struggled. As much as I love Oprah and Brene, they are such lofty goals. I spent the weekend hearing from mothers, daughters, sisters and friends who are still figuring it out but decided to go for it while they were going through the process. Inspirational, for sure and oh so fun!

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One of my favorite quotes from the Superwoman Summit courtesy of Anna Kunnecke

I am so proud of the panel discussion that I was a part of. I’ll save that for a separate post because that topic deserves my full attention. I can’t begin to capture all I learned at the Summit. The resounding message was one of belonging. There were talks about owning your power, being brave, prioritizing and self-care. Each one was special in its own right and all carried a thread of belonging. We, as women, find it hard to fit in. We’ve been told from men we’re too bossy, assertive, aggressive, bitchy and then there are other women who push us to find our voice, be bold, stand strong. You get the picture. At the Superwoman Summit, everyone was just right, not too much of anything. We, as a collective female community, need to support one another just as we are. Sure, we can support our goals, areas of growth, etc. AND none of that should change who we are at our core. We are perfectly and intentionally created, just as we are.

Post one Summit, I jetted to Atlanta for another, this one specific to work. It was the culmination of months of hard work, with new team members, lots of moving parts and my first show as a manager. It was the most challenging conference I’ve run to date. There were lots of moments where I felt like I didn’t belong, that my big, bold personality was too much. Why? Well, for starters, I wasn’t taking care of myself: Lack of sleep, not eating right and not exercising all contribute to my already stressed out state. Add in all sorts of feedback, both positive and constructive, it was like sensory overall. Plus, as the manager, I was the role model for the team. Just typing that was a lot. Upon returning home, I took care of myself, mind/body/soul. This included lots of sleeping, meal prepping and journaling.

Almost a week later and I’m about back to myself. As an empath, I catch and receive emotions in such a heightened way. I’ve learned a lot about what I need to do to show up the way I want onsite. Much of it includes self-care and setting boundaries. The biggest lesson is that a sense of belonging only comes from within. I know, I know Brene Brown already told us this. Yet, I had to learn it for myself. I belonged at BOTH of my Summits, I earned the right to be there, no matter how bold or extroverted or honest I am. I’ve finally gotten back to that mindset thanks to my support squad and lots of working through what’s true and what I’m telling myself.

It’s really hard to put those negative self-talk stories aside especially when you’re receiving feedback. I’m learning to be kind to myself and remember why the universe put me here in the first place.

Summit2

My co-worker/friend and I celebrating a successful Summit

To My Sisters

Lent started on March 1 and if you’re a practicing Catholic, you give something up. So, I gave up apologizing, casually throwing around “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t needed and certainly when I didn’t mean it. I also made a point to find at least one woman, each day, who left on impression on me. Maybe she showed kindness, or strength or listened when I needed it. Plus it’s Women’s History Month, why not focus on my fierce lady friends!

sistasMy little mission yielded a few lessons or maybe observations is a better word for what I saw. In 31 days, women close to me and complete strangers influenced the trajectory of my day. Each, in her own way, raised me up: with encouragement, compassion, advice or a mug of wine. I didn’t struggle to identify someone each day; in fact it was the opposite, I couldn’t choose one name!

As I paid close attention to the women I interacted with, I also paid close attention to my apologizing tendency as well as other negative language I use without even thinking about it. I saw myself really thinking about  saying I’m sorry. I only did it when I truly meant it. It made such a difference!

Word choice and the language we use especially when talk about ourselves is important. In the last month, when I listened more closely to these same women, they were far less empowering when it came to speaking about themselves. I heard women struggling to accept compliments, be recognized, say thank you and talk positively about themselves. It wasn’t always the case but happened more often than not.

It’s been an enlightening 31 days and my intentionality around apologizing and language will continue past the month of March. Now my PSA: Ladies, our paths are different from our male counterparts. That is fact, however, don’t forget where we as a population have come from. We must own our power as women, to set the example for those behind us. You are whole, you are strong, you have God-given talents that no one else possesses. They are uniquely yours. Own them!

The way each woman who crossed my path this month acted is how we all must treat one another. With respect, humility, compassion and grace. We must raise each other up. When one succeeds, it is a victory for all. It sounds preachy and idealistic, I know. However, it’s the only way to move forward and to make sure everyone knows and appreciates a woman’s worth.

How Do You Define Success?

Lean In” and Sheryl Sandberg have permeated every news channel, major corporation and magazine cover during the last couple of months. The book has been wildly successful and Sandberg has led an army of mainly women in the charge for equality in the workplace. While her book is very helpful and it’s great companies want to aid women in the work/life balance struggle, “Lean In” is not a gospel for every woman out there.

The work/life balance is such a personal issue for men and women alike that no one prescribed way can be applied to everyone’s situation. In reality, it comes down to how you define success. Is is a c-suite office, a certain pay grade, or having happy, responsible children? I can’t answer that question for you and neither can Sheryl Sandberg. What we can do, as women fighting for a better tomorrow, is lift each other up rather than bring one another down.

acsuccessSuccess is one of those obscure topics like happiness. There’s the dictionary definition but that can’t possibly capture everyone’s feelings on these sometimes lofty out-of-reach ideas. A co-worker recently shared a Harvard Business Review (HRB) article that eloquently addressed the topic of success saying “You have to define what success means to you—understanding, of course, that your definition will evolve over time.” I experienced this epitome earlier in the week when I made the conscious decision to attend my fitness class instead of staying later at work. As a young professional, my career is top of mind, but since the start of 2014, my health has become a top priority too. Right now, being successful means taking time for myself, whether that is a yoga class or a manicure.

It is easy to define success right now as a single, young professional with no responsibility to anyone but myself. However, I know it will gradually become harder, when I add a significant other and children to the mix. That is why I enjoyed the HBR article so much; it is okay for your definition of success to change as your grow and figure out what you want from this life. I look at others my age and occasionally question their lack of ambition. But who am I to define success for them? I can’t want for others what they don’t want for themselves. We can’t define success for anyone else but ourselves.

I think that having a clear definition of success and sharing it with your board of directors is important. Of course,definesuccess you can change this definition whenever you need to, but keeping it top of mind will help you make tough decisions. If you define success as being home with your children by 6 p.m. three nights a week, write it on a post-it, share it with your team and make it happen! I doubt it will always be easy and sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice, but keeping your definition of success top of mind should help.

How do you define success? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section!

 

Motivation Mondays: One Billion Rising

One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. 

About three weeks ago on Valentine’s Day, One Billion Rising overtook cities around the world to deliver an important message. They staged flash mobs, held dance parties and brought an important issue to the forefront. One Billion Rising is a mission, an uprising if you will that raises awareness of violence against women around the world. On Valentine’s Day, also known as V-Day, this organization took to Twitter, Facebook and every other social media site to call men and women everywhere to participate in a revolution. They tweeted and posted instructions about meet-ups around the world. They invited people to dance, to raise awareness and to challenge the norm. It is not acceptable for the violence women and girls face each day. It was time for a revolution, a time for change.

Celebrities like Kerry Washington and Eve took to Twitter as well to support the cause. Updates were constantly coming from Brazil, Poland, New York City and so many other places around the world. Videos of millions of people dancing and holding signs with shocking statistics were uploaded instantly to the One Billion Rising website. Their online presence was strong, their message was clear and their goal was inspiring. Think about the statistic above: 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten. 1 in 3 women. That’s your mother, your aunt, your best friend. It is not acceptable. It cannot be tolerated anymore. We all, men and women alike, stop this violence and use our voices. No means no. We will not be disrespected. We will be one billion rising.

Check out one of their videos below

How to Take Off Your Cape

My friends and I have an ongoing joke about being superwomen. We talk about wearing capes and saving the world. You know, just your typical girl talk goofiness. But some of our jokes hold truth.

People have called me a superwoman. I usually laugh in their faces. But, in their opinion, I put my cape on and try to fix everyone and everything, never stopping until I get it right. Now back home and searching for jobs, I’m the same way, applying to as many jobs as possible, rewriting my résumé and cover letters over and over again. You get the picture.

I blame my superwoman personality on the women in my life. My mother, stepmother, godmother, aunts, cousins and best friends are my superwomen. I’ve watched them overcome personal struggles without a complaint or thrive professionally and run the world. These women have set the bar high and continue to challenge me to push harder, fight longer and be all I can be.

But there’s one problem with superwomen: we do not know how to take off our capes. We cannot ask for help in any way, shape or form. We try to save the world every day and do not understand why we can’t get it all accomplished. The women closest to me can’t accept my help even when it’s absolutely necessary. So how do we take our capes off?

First off, we are not superwomen with magical powers. We are human beings with real needs like sleep, food and breaks from our lives. Next, we need to realize that asking for help isn’t a weakness. Instead, it’s admitting we can’t do it all without losing our minds. Lastly, we have to stay balanced. Some days we can do it all with a smile. Others, we just need to lay on the couch, watch Scandal and pretend we’re Olivia Pope.

I will continue to iron my superwoman cape but I will also remember when to take it off and breathe. To my superwomen, thank you for inspiring me and being there every step of the way.

“A great friend looks out for you when you’ve forgotten to look out for yourself. Find these superwomen, love them and let them love you” – Alicia Keys

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