I’m approaching my two year anniversary of being a single, working mom. During training for my first position at work, I asked a lot of questions. Toward the end, I joked to my trainer that she was probably sick of me talking so much in class. To my surprise, she told me she wanted me to speak up, both in volume and frequency. To say the least, I was surprised our perceptions were so different.
Nine months later I was promoted. The initial ego boost faded over the 9 weeks of training, I felt like my brain was going to explode as my confidence plummeted. I answered the trainer’s questions, but she moved on like I didn’t say anything. Again I thought I was actively participating, but my trainer rarely heard me and wanted me to speak up.
I read an article about how women share an idea in the work force that gets no response until a man suggests the same idea. I have seen this scenario play out countless times. But I have also seen strong and confident women who not only get noticed, but are also respected as natural leaders.
For me, speaking up is more than overcoming society’s tendency to turn to men for leadership. Speaking up is a matter of confidence; an inner strength in knowing who I am and what’s important to me. I’ve come to understand how important it is to know myself and learn to be comfortable in my own skin.
This seems like it should be a simple concept, but it is a long and challenging process filled with victories and failures. There continues to be, an unraveling of who I thought I was and what I believe. I feel like I’m trying to hit a moving target without knowing what the target looks like.
I think I’m way too old to be “discovering myself”, but it’s important to strip down to my core and see what it is that makes me, me. That understanding builds my authentic self that I’m hoping is a strong, confident woman who is never afraid to speak up.