brothers

where does it all come from?

I grew up in a single-parent household. That particular single parent changed a time or two but alas, most of my life I lived and primarily dealt with one of my biological parents. I was and still am the oldest of 6 children as the result of 3 marriages. I fall in to all of the typical birth order statistics. I tend to lead my siblings around, sometimes dragging them against their will. I want everyone to get along and I try to help everyone even when they aren't asking for my help and yes at times I think I know better than they do. I have that personality trait that thinks I have to make everything better or at the very least okay. I always believed that if people left a place, time or thing with a great feeling that everything else in life would be great too. So, as I grew up, I took charge of things. I was/am stubborn, opinionated, driven, loud, inpatient, anxious,  empathetic and I expect a lot from just about everyone and everything which means I am often disappointed.

It is with all of these attributed that I attacked life. From the earliest memories I have, I wanted to be a part of the action. My partner in crime, was my slightly younger brother (17 months apart) and if he was going to do it, then so was I. I drove big wheels, played in the mud, told wild and crazy stories and as some family members love to remind me, I even talked FOR my brother as his "official advocate". 

I do not know where these personality traits come from. If I look at my parents, sure I suppose they have one or two of the traits between them but neither manifest in quite the same way that I do. It is because of these traits that I always thought I would be more. I don't know if I had identified what more meant but I just knew it was more than what others expected from me and I always felt the need to prove people wrong in how they saw me. Oh yeah, I was that kid.

As I got older, you couldn't tell me nothing. I was head strong, independent and looking for something. In hindsight I realize that I was looking for me. Corny? Maybe, but I was looking for what my purpose was. Some may have said I was a little lost and at times I won't lie, I felt that way but it really was all in search of that purpose, that reason for being.

My path to purpose had a lot of bumps and bruises that we will save for another post. (yikes) The reason I mention this journey and these personality traits is because of an article I read today. The article posed the question "are you holding your daughter back; 5 ways to raise girls to be leaders". I want to spend the next few days discussing this idea. In order to do that I have to tell some of my story.

Let's all admit that in the late 70's and early 80"s there wasn't a whole lot of discussion about raising daughters to be leaders. Yes there was a lot of bra burning or just going bra-less but it was more about the women themselves seeking something for themselves. Today we live in this whole "save our girls" world, which don't get me wrong is great and I am a part of it, no if's and's or but's about it but back then it was just different. (I say this because I want it to be known that there is no judgement in what I am writing about today. They were different times.) Saying all that, I will tell you that I do not ever remember a time in my life where an adult told me "that I wouldn't do something because I was a girl". I was told I couldn't do things because I was ugly or dumb but never because I was a girl. (yes I realize the other ones are horrendous too, but that is a whole other post too.)

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

an actual junior high yearbook picture...circa 1988 - Whitford Junior High

I tried out for just about every sport, club or organization in junior high, all in search of my purpose, I never thought about whether or not I could or couldn't because of my gender. I actually tried to be on the wrestling team and now that I think about it, I was told I couldn't do that one because I was a girl and there weren't any other girls for me to compete with which I thought was lame but didn't really give it any thought beyond that. I started work at an early age and always had a very easy time getting jobs, they were all basically awful teenage jobs but they were jobs. In every single job I ever had, I wanted to do more, make more and rise in ranks. It had nothing to do with whether or not I liked the job. It had everything to do with the fact that I just knew I was meant for more. More of what, was really still the question. In the process of this I didn't pay gender any mind. I just kept working and trying to do more, make more and be more. 

When my career finally took off is when I started to see it. The quiet comments about a girls attire in the office. The mumbling about a woman in the office who said too much too loudly or "aggressively". I started to pay attention to where people say, what they wore, how they were talked about, promoted and/or rewarded and that is when my eyes opened up. I was hitting a lot of road blocks and suddenly I saw one of the reasons why. 

HOLD ON

Before you go getting bent out of shape because you think I am blaming all of life's problems on gender bias, I beg you to stop. 

that is not what i am saying.

I am simply saying that for the first time in my entire life I noticed gender and the way in which it was dealt with. I still had this mindset that it had nothing to do with me. I would coach my little sisters or the girls and women who worked with and for me what to "look out for" and to be careful about "what they said or did" around certain members of the team and I actually though I was helping them, I thought I was doing a good thing.

Nobody was going to tell me what I could and couldn't do with my career because I was a female, it was me after all, BUT I was ignorant enough to think it applied to other's and that by telling them what to look out for I had done my due diligence.

boy was i wrong.

You see gender bias and sexual harassment, unfair treatment because of gender, race or anything else isn't something we should be "warning people about". It is something we should be speaking up about, talking about and eradicating from our workplaces but so many of us think it has nothing to do with us until...

that one day it happens to you. 

to be continued...

Read what happened on that day for me this Friday In the meantime check out the source articles below for some great reading on gender in the workplace.

junior high year book.jpg

the comparison game

When I was younger, one of the things I spent most of my time on was tearing myself down. I didn’t need anyone around to do it. I was quite good at it. In fact I carried a black belt in it, even had the WWF championship belt given to those that are able to knock themselves out. At the time, I honestly thought I was the only one in the entire world who felt this way. As a pre-teen I would hide in the back of my closet with magazines, notebooks and journals that I would then fill with words to outline all of the ways in which I didn’t measure up.

I would compare myself to most anybody but more often than not I chose to compare myself to my siblings. I am the oldest of six. The gap is 14 years between the oldest and youngest. Each one of them has veritable cornucopia of amazing and unique things about them. I was always the proud “big” sister that would show up to every play, choir concert, soccer game, taekwondo practice etc. and aside from my Mom, I am pretty sure I was the loudest cheerleader that was there.

My comparison was not one of malice. It was jealousy, of course, but it was the kind of jealousy that made me think I didn’t measure up. They did all of these wonderful things and all I did was, well in my mind I did nothing. I became one of those people that was constantly on a search for “my talent”. From as far back as I can remember, every one of my siblings just had something special about them. They were all talented. 

My brother is an artist who would blow your mind. No joke, he doesn’t just draw, he builds things, and basically is good at everything he attempts. Add to this his quick wit and old people love him. Well lots of people love him but especially old people. I have no idea why.


There is my brother who was a second degree black belt before Jr High. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and is maybe the most charming person you will ever meet. He is witty and knows how to turn a phrase like no other.


I have a sister who is a championship roller-skater, cheerleader, dancer and fashion savant. She has the most positive natural energy and loyalty of anyone you will ever meet and doesn’t give up on anything ever.


My brother was a basketball phenom. He was the kid people loved to watch play and my Dad loved to coach. He has this natural ability that seemed to appear straight from the womb. He's hungry to learn as much as he can about people & takes chances in his life more than most.


My sister, the comedienne & writer. She'll read this & roll her eyes but she is the smartest person I know and sees the world as whole. She uses humor & words to understand & explore the world. Nobody can make you laugh like her. Don’t even get me started about her Ralph Machio impression.


Did I mention that they also all happen to be really really really good looking? Like Zoolander good looking?

So imagine me, the first one, the oldest, a pasty, scrawny girl with fluffy blonde hair and eczema all over. (umm, yes that is a real pre-teen picture of me on Valentines Day and yes I see the outfit.) I was/am loud, chatty and bossy but I brought no “talent” to the team. I was the bench player who was great at cheering and bringing everyone their sweat towels to feel part of the team but I was never going to get to play. I spent many a conversation crying to my mother and asking her “why am I not good at anything, why don’t I have a talent?”

“But you do. You’re talent is business.” She would say as she stroked my hair to calm me down. It didn’t work.

“That is not a talent” I would inevitably yell. Of course I didn’t storm out because who is gonna leave when their Mom is playing with their hair? I was sad not dumb.


If I could so clearly see everything that they were good at why was it that I couldn’t recognize any talent within myself? Was I being too strict with my definition? Was I not seeing something that was there? 

The truth is, it is all about playing the comparison game. We compare ourselves to everyone else around us and use that to gauge how successful, talented and/or worthwhile we are. Most of the time we don't even know we are doing it. Research says there are a lot of reasons we do this:

  • comparison helps provide us a bar to reach for
  • we are socialized to compete with others not just in sport but in everything (think young school age girls and the hierarchy involved, think politics, think sports, you get the drift.)
  • lack of confidence
  • social media
  • etc. 

We have all heard some version of the saying "don't compare your worst day with someone else's best day" or worse yet with their social media best day. It's not real. We not only compare ourselves to everyone but we compare them on stuff that isn't even real.

We now curate our lives into our own story and the version of fabulous we use is rarely accurate in its retelling.

So let's stop already. Easier said than done right? Well, maybe not. Maybe if we take what learned on Negative Bias and apply it here it could actually help us reduce our need to compare. Think of it this way, if we are focusing on the positive things in our lives we are bound to find our purpose. When we find our purpose we live a happier life. When we live a happier life we don't have a reason to compare because we see, honor and respect the amazing things we have.

So...have I stopped comparing myself to my siblings? Most of the time, yes. I slip every once in awhile, because they really are amazing. But...finding my purpose and passion changed everything. I like what I'm doing, who I am and who I have around me. It's a pretty dope feeling so I have decided to own that and let them own their awesomeness as well.

Oh, and by the way, I did find my talent and while business is great and I am glad to have a head for it. My talent is what I was put on this earth for. Want to know what it is? Read the "DO" section on this website. How do you battle the comparison game? Tell me in the comments below?

 


SOURCES:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/self-worth_b_2855751.html

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/30/how-to-break-out-of-the-comparison-trap/