Hear me []

A friend of mine, the amazing @SalesforceAmy, gathered a group of us women in the Salesforce #Ohana with a great idea that she and another amazing woman, Rachel Rogers, had for celebrating International Women’s Day (which is today, by the way). I’ve been thinking about how I could contribute – video? Picture? Retweet machine? And then I remembered that I have this thing called a blog and generally speaking, I write about things…

I’m not the most vocal person, unless I really know someone. So the hashtag #hearmeroar seemed disingenuous to me. You won’t hear me roar because that’s not really my style. But you might read my words.

I carry a small notebook with me wherever I go. I have 4 small black notebooks all filled, cover to cover, and dated. Their pages contain my triumphs and, more often than not, my defeats. They are my roar.

My roar is the long line of strong women in my life. My maternal grandmother who moved herself and her two children from the tiny island nation of Malta to New York City. My paternal grandmother, who has lived up to every challenge that the world has thrown at her and continues to learn and do amazing things. My mom – holy shit, my mother…smart, funny, driven, thoughtful, kind, brave…the list goes on. I am in awe of her every single day.

My roar is the list of things I have done that surprised even myself. Finished 3rd in my class at the fire academy. Moved across the country and somehow turned my life around. Taught myself math, so I could teach math in a struggling school district. Became a Salesforce consultant. (What is my life?)

Sometimes my roar is just getting through the tough times.

Sometimes it’s leaving a company because they show a pattern of disrespect to the women who work there.

Other times it’s supporting another woman who is going through something I’ve experienced.

For all of us, though, our roar is the collective will to continue pushing forward, the defiance in the face of systems that tell us that we are at fault for being born as women, our ability to keep standing when we’ve been pushed down. Our roar is in our strength – a strength that does not need to boast or strut, a strength that persists, that permeates everything that we do. Our roar is collective, and it shakes foundations, and if that scares some people, then it’s only because they thought that we were kittens, when in fact we are titans.

So you will not hear me roar today. You may never hear me roar.

But you will hear me.

You will hear all of us. Because we will not be silent, and we will not be silenced.

Today is International Women’s Day. Here’s to our voices.

 

#BEYA – Authenticity and Imposter Syndrome

There are two people I need to mention before I step upon this soapbox.

The first (always and forever) is my mom, who is a fantastically inspirational woman.

The second is the SaaSy Sistah herself, who wrote this blog post, then challenged some of us to keep the dialogue going. Challenge accepted.

soapbox

I hate saying this, but I am smart. I really am. I am the kind of smart that gets bored easily or can reach logical conclusions based on information provided before it’s explicitly said. I don’t like saying that because it’s considered bad form to speak about myself positively.

I mention this because, especially as a woman who works exclusively with men, I often dumb myself down around people. (See how this just keeps sounding worse?!) I work with a lot of people who lash out at intelligence, despite the buzz words and the catchphrases that make it seem like they would embrace it. They feel threatened by it. So I keep quiet; I keep things to myself. I pretend I don’t remember things that I do remember when it would seem “weird” to.

And, yes, I get bored. If I don’t feel challenged in my work (in an enriching way, mind you), then I’m much more likely to find a way out. This has been thrown in my face – “you seem to have bounced around a lot, how do we know you will stay here?” I have to apologize for that? (I will say this for my authenticity – when asked this question, my response is “I have done a lot of different jobs, yes, and I’ve been successful in each of them.”)

Things that don’t bore me: fantasy books, comics, video games, and some movie and tv franchises. I’ve been accused of being obsessive at times…by more than one person. I get rather enthusiastic about things that I like, and sometimes it’s a really hot flame that doesn’t burn very long. If I had a nickel for every time someone complained to me about my intensity, I would have enough money to make up for some of this pay gap.

So in response, I resort to stoicism or self-deprecating humor. Easier to pretend to be indifferent than to be told that my enthusiasm is ill-placed or unwelcome.

It’s also easier because there’s a gender war in some of those arenas. Comic fans (even some writers) and gamers are typically white males, and if I don’t want to deal with harassment or arguments, I have to enjoy those things quietly and largely on my own. Does my blood boil when the hubby and I go to events, and he is treated with respect, when he knows less about comics? All the time. Does he know that and correct people? You bet.

And perhaps the worst part…is that I know all of this about myself. I know that I am intelligent, that I am a genuine fan of things, that I have a great memory. I know that I actively pretend to not be. Yet I still feel inferior.

On the Women in Tech Leadership call this month, Imposter Syndrome was the main topic of conversation. It was strange to me that I had never heard of this, but even before they explained it, I understood the concept. I mean, it’s in the name.

Essentially, what that means is that I’m wearing a mask over a mask. I wear a mask of confidence to hide my mask of insecurity, which hides my true self. Or maybe I wear a mask of timidity over a mask of confidence over insecurity? I can’t say anymore, and that is the worst part of all of this.

I’ve been thinking about authenticity all week; I’ve been thinking about Imposter Syndrome. and the most disturbing realization that I reached was that maybe I don’t even know anymore which parts are mask.