In the past week I've really been struggling with my attitude towards my destiny: should it be pride or shame?
I realized that nobody should ever have to be embarrassed about who they are or what they do. This is my life, and really it is nobody else's business. But that isn't necessarily a realistic concept. Other people will always be looking in and telling me what I 'should' do or how I 'should' be. So really all I can control is how I feel when they do.
This weekend Ken and I were in the pet shop on Sunday, and there was the CUTEST little kitten for adoption. He wasn't even the size of a can of soup. As we were buying a massive bag of dog food for the mutts (who were with us in the store) I asked about the adoption process. The cashier informed me that I could fill out an application (of which several were already waiting for the kitty) and then if I was selected the costs would be $100 for the pet, spayed with shots etc etc. I declined the application as I was only mildly curious and because, I flatter myself, I'm mature enough to not get a new pet just because I'm feeling my biological clock ticking louder on my birthday week. At any rate, as we were driving home I observed something out loud. On paper, we probably wouldn't have the most suitable home for a new kitten because we have two large dogs. Not whether we would love the cat, or provide for it well, or make sure it has food/clean litter/water/toys, or keep it healthy. But based solely on the fact that we have dogs when someone else may not. This line of thinking juts kept spiraling until at one point Ken suggested that if I really wanted the kitten we could just omit that we have dogs on the application. That's when it hit me: For other people to not judge negatively we would have to, in essence, hide who we are.
Yesterday, Monday, I had a similar experience. The new Vice President of Alumnae Relations for my college sorority sent an email to all of the registered alumnae, of which I am one. The email was a feeler for interest in a mentoring program between graduates and current students in the sorority. I should break here to say that joining my sorority was one of the most serendipitous and best things of my college life, and whenever I am given the chance I like to give back, so that other girls might have the same experience I did. So needless to say I thought a mentoring program would be great! Where do I sign up?? I followed the link given to a sign up sheet. Across the sheet were column headings as follows: "Name" "Major in College" "Industry You Work in Now".
As I read down the list, and observed the names I realized that I don't work in an 'industry' now. I'm a housewife. Sure I work part-time as an accounting/finance/bookkeeping consultant, but I'm my own boss, and I still don't know what industry you would call that. As I sat staring at the screen a thought occurred to me: What if they don't want me to mentor because I don't have a job? What if 'they' determine that I don't have anything to offer because I 'just stay at home'? It may seem silly, but I really was embarrassed. I thought of ways to change what I do to make it sound better. I considered putting my title from my old job. I considered not participating at all. That's when it hit me: For other people to not judge negatively I would have to, in essence, hide who I am.
While mulling these thoughts over in my head I came to a conclusion. Well, two conclusions technically. If having the dogs means I can't have a cat, would I then trade them for a kitten? Absolutely not! So then, there's no need for me to be embarrassed or ashamed that I have them. They are great. They are a part of my life and my family. If someone else determines they are a hurdle to adopting a new pet then that someone else would be missing out on a loving home. And if staying at home and working for myself means that I can't participate in a mentoring program does that then mean that I would rather be back in a job that I hated, or unhappy in another job just so I could be a mentor? No! That's a ridiculous thought. I realized that really I have nothing to be ashamed of. If other people can't recognize that who I am and what I have to offer hasn't changed because I left the workforce, then they wouldn't be open to learning anything from me anyway. And they would be missing out on a mentor that has real life experiences and knowledge to share.
While at the time each of these situations made me first feel ashamed, and then angry at the small-mindedness of the world I am thankful that they happened. And as much as I tire of getting beaten over the head with a concept, I'm thankful that they happened back-to-back. They have helped me to realize that I can be happy with who I am, and I can be happy with what I do. And really, that I can stand tall and proud despite what the world might think.
So today this is how I fill out that mentoring sheet:
"Valerie" "Business Administration - Finance" "Self Employed Business Consultant" :)