career

When is the Right Time?

(to bring up equality)

Dearest Aunties-

I’ve been thinking of you all, out there in the world, taking care of business, challenging people’s assumptions, being ladies of strong moral fiber, and of course, supporting each other through it all.  The thoughts of you always bring a smile to my face and fill me with a feeling of extreme gratefulness to be among you.

I had a few ideas of things that I wanted to discuss with you, but the most frequent discussion topic in the auntie chats lately has been career life, and thus those other ideas went out the window.  The debacle surrounding Serena Williams has really kept this at the front of my mind.  I feel that many women, especially those with strong ideas, confidence, discipline, passion, and little patience for those not doing their part, are often put in the position of Mrs. Williams.  We are expected to be passionate and to bring our all to the table. . .but not really.  Instead of our all, we are asked to bring the part of us that is palatable. . .and often without an explanation of what that means.

The statement that really got under my skin in the Serena Williams debacle, and I could only read it again now, to reference for this post, was “she completely got the right message about women’s equality, but it wasn’t the right time to bring it up.” (Martina Navratilova in the New York Times.)  Because, my friends, this statement implies that there is a space, that there is a time to bring it (women’s equality) up.  As if Mrs. Williams had several options, and was forced to choose based on something trivial, or something stylistic, to break the tie.  And further, the statement implies that there, in the middle of bringing all her passion and talent to an intense match, she was supposed to somehow turn that all off to make an assessment between this plethora of options. Honestly, it hit super close to home.

A few weeks ago, I attended a lunchtime discussion with a Chief People Officer of a major technology corporation here in Austin, “People want to find a place where they can be their whole self,” she said.

And this has stayed with me, I have thought of it often.  Really, where can we be our whole self?  For those of us that have ever lived in more than one place, in more than one culture, shoot, more than one decade, what is our whole self?  But I am going to table that for a moment before this becomes a psychological discussion. . .<focuses.>

All that to say that her words made me realize that what we ask for seems so simple, especially in this age of diversity and inclusion initiatives:  let us be our whole selves.  Let a few people learn about our communication style instead of vice versa, recognize that not every woman is going to cower from a confrontation, because women know that it is far more efficient to discuss an issue than let it fester.  Because maybe in all that time we were left to raise children, carry a culture, fuel the economy, and care-give?  Maybe in that time, we learned a thing or two about human interaction and how to reduce our suffering.

So with this, I am going into my blog structure here, I am adding a category, let’s talk careers Aunties.  How do we stay the loving people we are with all the pressures of work?  How do we decide what is enough?  How do we balance our ambitions?  It’s on.  I hope you will enjoy this part of my blog and contribute to the conversation.  We need to remind each other, we are not alone in this, we see your whole self, and all of her. . .she is beautiful.

3 Comments

  1. Hey AuntieCam, I loved being an elementary teacher for 32 years, but not a day goes by when I don’t thank God for being retired! So I don’t have as much to say about current working conditions. It was easy to be my whole self as a woman in a female-dominated profession, but it wasn’t so easy being “a girl” in the Canadian Forces Army Reserve from 1978-1987. I had to be a groundbreaker, prove myself often, and of course – #metoo! I’m so glad that things are somewhat better for younger women these days. But not all better! So, keep pushing you Aunties!

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