One week ago, I was writing about battling and (mostly) conquering my debilitating insecurities and desperate need for approval…and today, after a work meeting in which I was handed my new tasks and duties I was also handed a whole lot of “productive” criticism.
To be fair, I directed the conversation toward “respect”, how to earn it and how to keep it.
I guess, I was expecting a “work more hours, step up more often and finish tasks more quickly” kind of pep-talk. I work hard, but I will be the first to admit that I can work harder. Can’t we all?
Instead, I was given two pieces of very startling advice…
Be careful what questions you ask in meetings with your peers, if a topic or term is mentioned that you are unfamiliar with or you don’t have any knowledge of, wait until the meeting is over and ask your direct report for the answer in private.
So, hey, mom & dad, high school teacher, college professor and personal trainer….I have a spoiler alert for you::
Apparently, there is such a thing as a stupid question.
You work in an industry in which you cannot be taken seriously when you wear **”short”** skirts, feminine tops and makeup to accentuate your looks. Sometimes being “too striking” can work against you and people won’t take you seriously. Dressing more transgender will give you the opportunity for respect.
**I would like to define my version of short:: I wear skirts and dresses that are above my knee, yes, but they would pass my very strict high school uniform dress code, these are by no means mini-skirt, booty hugging outfits that I am flaunting at work. Instead, they are pleated, fashionable and respectable ensembles.**
This, is the perfect example of an outfit I might wear to work:
I’m not writing this post just to vent…I did that on Facebook yesterday…thanks for the support ya’ll! 😉
Instead, I wanted to flaunt some of this new-found respect and admiration that I have finally found for yours truly.
In all honestly…post criticism….I wanted to crumble, I wanted to bawl, I want a really big glass of wine and a box of Mac n Cheese….but after about 45 minutes of stewing and pouting in my office you know what I decided?
Because I am a woman in the corporate world, a young one at that, I am expected to act and dress differently?
You know what?
I will ask whatever the hell I want to in meetings involving my peers, the people I work with. I refuse to keep my mouth shut and pretend to know what organization, law or standard that AVBWG might stand for or not pipe up about a policy change or employee change in the company that I was unaware of because someone else failed to communicate that to me.
I refuse to nod along in a conversation that I might have something damn important to contribute to just because I need a bit of clarification.
If someone wants to roll their eyes because I just asked a question and also happen to be a blonde who did her hair and makeup this morning…go for it. I love a good eye roll.
The fact is, I am an intelligent, competent and ambitious young woman and I belong in those meetings, as do my input, my thoughts, my suggestions and yes….even my questions. I could sit in a meeting for an hour spouting off a vocabulary so extensive no one can follow my thoughts…but that does not make me impressive.
Communicating, fostering an open and positive work environment and promoting discussions…that, is impressive and that is inspiring.
Wanna know what else?
I will not cloak my 26-year-old figure in polyester pant suits because being feminine and well groomed is distracting to my credibility.
If you like pant suits, awesome, you rock those pant suits. But I don’t, maybe next year.
As far as I’m concerned, I dress appropriately, my breasts are neatly tucked away, my blouses fit with room and my work skirts and dresses are an acceptable length and fit. I am more than meeting the “business casual” dress code.
I don’t dress for anyone.
Waking up, exercising, showering, styling my hair, applying my makeup and picking out an outfit is for me. I feel good, I feel ready for the day and I feel well represented.
I work hard, I show up, I complete my projects in a timely and professional way and I come to work clean, prepared and well dressed. That is where my responsibility for respect ends and the responsibility for others to give respect begins.
I could be angry at the individual who gave me this pep-talk minus the pep, but the truth is, she is just as much a victim of these ridiculous ideas as I am.
Only, she bought in.
People, don’t buy in.
I don’t care what industry you are in and I don’t care how male dominated/female dominated it might be. I don’t care how you are directed to act, dress, talk, write, etc. If for one minute you don’t feel genuine & comfortable…you’re off track. And you will only suffer because of it.