Gasping For Air
There are moments that last way too long. I am not talking about pleasant moments, moments of joy and happiness, moments of positive realization, epiphanies… I am talking about moments that start like a little stomach ache that then continues into a full blown cramp. I am talking about moments that start out as a small tiny headache in the morning and then later require you to lie in bed in a darkened room with your eyes closed and a cold towel on your forehead.
My unfavorable moment started in June. Another request at work for more advancement and new experiences denied. The fourth time being bypassed by opportunities and not considered in an Organizational Design. Always the same stories — They did not know I wanted change, they did not know I was looking for advancement, they did not know I was actually trying to gain more experience. Many random swear words popped into my head then and have been circulating ever since. And I am desperately trying to swallow them, to hide them, not to ruin the career perspective I am still hoping I have.
You all know me. I am proactive. I am communicating my career and development desires. I make suggestions, I seek out opportunities. I basically follow every single career advice to the T. I have been rated top performer for most of my working life. I ask for feedback, I implement the feedback. I adjust, I work late, I work hard, I never miss deadlines. Most seniors in my company know me by name and value my feedback. How the fuck they did not know is beyond me.
“You talk too much in meetings.”
“You are too aggressive.”
“Something is a little off with your personality.”
“You need to smile more.”
“You need to ensure that everyone agrees with you before you present in a meeting.”
“Your dismiss criticism.”
NO. NO. NO. Swear word. NO. NO. NO. Fuck. Another swear word. Fuck. NO. NO. NO.
The first time someone came back to me at a performance review stating that my performance was outstanding and would definitely get me promoted if I just said “hi” to the other managers a little more often, I did just that. I spend a dedicated time to say “hi” frequently. I participated in all networking events. So successfully that I was often invited by those senior managers. I felt I fit in.
The first time I learned that I need to seek alignment before a meeting, I started setting up extensive prereviews. Called up peers. Called up other managers. Until I learned that it was less about alignment, but capturing the input of the other male managers.
I do have a good job. I earn a decent amount. Yet, my performance reviews only focus on my personality. Everything else: deliverables, budget, deadlines — always on or better than target. If I just did not talk as much in meetings…
My moments are just that. Me trying to catch my breath. Me trying to find out when my personality is actually good enough. Considering that I am not emotional at work. I do not cry. I do not whine. I do not rant. I present questions with answers. I present solutions. I solve problems. My boss whines. He can spend 5min complaining about an unsituation without a solution. Some of my male peers never offer solutions, yet, criticize every option presented — And many of these so called peers over the last four years have already passed me and become my boss. Well adding the clearly lacking whining to my presentations made them apparently management material. All these character flaws ignored when calling a penis your own. I need to grow a penis.
I know I am not nurturing. I am not a warm and fuzzy personality. I like facts, I like process, solutions, and a “get it done” attitude. I understand results and how to get there. There is just one problem: I am a tiny and short female with visible boobs.My attitude does not match my girly outside that even pant suits with high heels cannot hide. I do not match my stereotype. Cute girlfriend. Trophy wife. Soccer mom, maybe. Maybe a junior manager. Not a senior manager. Not a boss. Never a CEO.
I feel betrayed. Was not my generation the one with equal opportunity? Without prejudice? Without a glass ceiling? In June I woke up. In the middle of the Ocean.Still trying to avoid drowning, barely catching my breath. Realizing I have lived in a pretentious world: I world that pretended I can become whatever I wanted if I just worked hard enough, received the credentials, worked on myself, continuously considered improvements, and delivered results.My goodness does not this sound all too familiar? You are in control of your destiny, you make your own opportunities… Control? My whatever. You can control the results, but unless those results come with a penis you are only as promotable as the stereotype you portrait. Cute girls rarely make it in a male world.
I need my drive back and the feeling that I can influence my career by just working a little harder, but I am currently working on just staying afloat.
I am an overachiever. Perfect grades. Perfect performance reviews.
If I just smiled a little more… and let the men do the talking.