Category Archives: Speak Up

Imposter Child

It’s been almost a month since my last post.  No, I’m not really that busy.  I’ve started and stopped a half dozen posts but always got intimidated by finishing the research, organizing the links or even establishing my position on the topic. 

This is really unlike me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of an all hat, no cattle dreamer.  I LOVE to think of big ideas, get people all excited and then move on to whatever the next thing to catch my attention.  I’m not much of a “sticker.” 

But having an opinion?  Expressing it?

I’ve got that down pat.

Or so I thought.

It has occurred to me over the last few days that I’m suffering from an uncured case of imposter syndrome. 

In college, I reached a little too far.  I remember being corrected by my beau about the proper way to eat soup while out on a date at a fancy restaurant.  I felt constantly unqualified to keep the company I did.  Exposure alone had made my peers cosmopolitan and wise.  I was constantly in fear of being discovered as the simpleton, scholarship kid I was.

Fifteen years later, I find myself engaging with women whose professional accomplishments dwarf my own and I feel the creeping fear of discovery cast a cold shadow.

Maybe not on my interactions with them, but my actions reaching to join them. 

I have been invited to write with a professional blogger.  She’s completed one book and makes her living as a writer.  While I would LOVE to be a part of this project, I feel paralyzed when I think about whether my contribution would actually be worthwhile. 

Another women I’ve known of for years, suggested we meet for lunch.  We share many friends but have never had occasion or commonality to strike our own friendship.  I felt myself apologizing for myself because she is so effortlessly rebellious and cool.  Where I try too hard, she wouldn’t have considered trying worthy of her attention.  Yet, somewhere within the span of our lunch there were some raw honest moments that might grow into a mutual respect.  She too, offered up the idea of collaborating on a writing project.  The boldness of the idea, the nakedness of the truths she proposed we would tell appealed and repelled me equally.  I don’t even know if I’m healed enough to revisit the experiences that would have taught me the lessons I’d share for the project.  Like Forest says of Jenny’s childhood home, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.”

Finally, I discovered a really great potential friend almost by accident.  She’s my peer in years only.  Her career path has been nearly vertical, while mine has strayed from a flatline only to plunge occasionally. 

I’m the first to promote the idea that life, love, and work are not competitions. 

But my weaknesses have been baldly revealed by these new friendships and my self-consciousness makes me pause before proffering my opinion as anything other than the silly musings of a woman trapped by her own limits.

And so I’ve been silent for the last three weeks.

I just thought you should know.

Enough about me, what do YOU think of me?

Last week I got together with about 300 or so of my closest friends (a.k.a. clients and industry peers) for an annual outing on Lake Michigan.

This event is always a little nostalgic for me for reasons not relevant to this post but this year’s was particularly emotional.  After two years of fairly rough waters, my life has resumed what I would consider smooth sailing.  My bank account looks hurricane-ravaged.  My self-esteem has been leveled like a tornado tore through it.  Yet on that boat, I felt the warmth of some of my sunniest days.

There were some unabashedly joyous reunions.  I loved every one of them.

Two were outright surprising though.  Both former male colleagues, whom I liked then and now, gave me what seemed like spontaneous, candid insight about how they see me.

In the order they were given, “Christine is like, ‘Process, Schmocess.  What do you need done?  Pffft!  I got this.'” and “Christine is like TWENTY MEN… and three women.”

I was flattered, humbled, awed, and tickled all at the same time.  It has been a long time since I felt like I had the world by the proverbial balls but neither of these guys knew that.  They still saw me as the maverick, competent, sometimes legendary gal they worked alongside.

HOW. GOOD. IS. THAT.

It got me thinking about other great compliments I’ve received in my life.  There was the female classmate in Japan who told me that I was the perfect balance between masculine and feminine.  There was the high school crush who told me I may not be the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen but I was definitely the sexiest.  There was the man  who said I was the most grown up person he’d ever met in his life.  And that same man also said that he never thought about having kids until he met me.  When he finally told me his feelings, he said “Christy, I don’t just love you.  You’re the love of my life.”  I married him.

But I don’t think compliments are common.  If reality shows are any indication, I think we tend to experience schadenfreude more than we share our admiration, respect, or pleasure for people.  Why is that?  And how do we unlearn that behavior?

With the inexorable deluge of criticism playing on a loop in my head, it is refreshment to hear something positive from another.  It helps me silence my past, my family, my ghosts and view myself more fairly, as I am, right now.  I know I’m not alone.  Women, especially, seem to be finding new ways to hate and punish themselves all the time.  And when we REALLY hate ourselves, we often punish each other.

In face, I think we’ve gotten so bad at being nice to ourselves that many of us have forgotten how to TAKE a compliment as well as how to give one.  I would bet that if we got better at both, the popularity of the behavior would grow exponentially.

What do you think?

Want to do an experiment with me?  Ok… for the rest of the week, give out five GENUINE compliments.  They can be spontaneous or premeditated.  You can give them to strangers or to family.  You can give them all to the same person or to five different ones. 

Listen to what they say after you give them the compliment.

Then come share your experience here.  I really find your stories interesting!

(Four to go…)

This Just In

I’ve been debating for a week about this post.  After listening to Mayer Bloomberg’s speech, and Chris Matthews’ closing words tonight referencing that speech, I know I can’t be among those who don’t speak up.  And seeing yet another post in my Facebook feed with anti-Islam/anti-mosque sentiment, I know anyone who wishes for peace and appreciates freedom shouldn’t keep her tongue either.

When I was celebrating the last* of our troops leaving Iraq, I came across a thread from a High-School phriend.  Phriends are people who don’t know you (and maybe never did) but want to add you to their list on Facebook because you a) know some of the same people, b) went to school together, or c) grew up in the same vicinity. 

After moving back to St. Louis for a few months, I acquired quite a few new phriends, mostly from my hometown.   

Many are conservatives.
Some post highly political comments.
A few make my blood boil.

Reading that thread which insinuated that our President, addressed as “Hussein Obama,” is secretly a Muslim (and that there would be something horribly wrong if that were true), I felt my face redden.  Seeing violence threatened against the mosque to be built within blocks of ground zero by profile pictures of happy smiling 30-somethings, I recoiled with disgust. There were posts that attempted to justify their proposed hatred and violence because “they,” meaning Muslims, started the violence & hatred.  The ugly commentary was labeled ‘patriotism’ and somehow bled into how the U.S. has gone to hell because Christianity has been taken out of our schools.  Some people find that frenzied fear-mongering entertaining.  I think it’s fascist and hypocritical and I said so.

It earned me an “unPhriending.”  

You’d think an uber-conservative would have gleaned my lefty disposition from my very candid profile but in case anyone missed it,
This Just In:  I am a Liberal, A Capitalist, and a Cubs-Fan.*

Sure, I felt frustration that mine was likely the only contrary commentary his circle might hear and by removing me from the thread, I was taken out of the conversation.  Discourse and diversity are core to this country.  So while the poor fella who couldn’t stomach my retort to hate speech might not read this, I cannot keep quiet about hate. 

Here is the comment that earned me an “unphriending.”  I wonder how many more are about to bite the dust.    

There isn’t much about this thread that doesn’t appall me. The initial post is blatantly xenophobic and propagates disinformation circulated during our shameful election process.

The outrage over the mosque in NY is absurd. There are plenty of religious buildings near ground zero. Why is a mosque any different? Because the terrorists were Muslim? I’m pretty sure Oklahoma didn’t raze every church after the bombings there. It’s just ‘too bad’ we didn’t have any foreigners to blame for that despicable act or we could have started a few more unnecessary wars! Isn’t that the great American way? Do as we say or else we’ll bomb you to death?

Do you know what a terrorist is? Do you know the 100+ definitions for the term? Don’t you think that we are considered monsters for invading and ravaging sovereign nations whose guilt has yet to be determined?

As for religious freedom and the “taking back” of your country? Your privilege to worship as you choose is only as good so far as it does not interfere with mine.

Your right to wave a flag and threaten with shotguns and say God Bless America will and must be tempered by my right to burn that flag in protest, plant a daisy in your gun barrel and exercise my right to not practice a religion.

Pluralism, my friends, is what makes America great. Not Christianity or Conservatism or Democracy. Pluralism. We allow for a great many ideas, beliefs, habits, persuasions, and truths.

To support otherwise would place you squarely in the fundamentalist camp – not unlike the extremists we claim to have been fighting.

You can’t have it both ways.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Russians were the most evil people on earth according to the great American propaganda machine. It turns out that they love their children, cherish their spouses, and bleed just like we do. Huh… what do you know about that.

I’d be careful about using terms like “us” and “them.” We are but one people, universally. You can choose not to accept that but to your own detriment.

Since when is it appropriate to only do right when others do? If we are to ever fulfill our promise as a nation, we must learn to lead by example. Our pluralism is revolutionary. Clearly, 200 years on, we still breed people who aren’t prepared for the responsibility it imbues.

I hate to tell you, but Jesus was a liberal.

As of 8/25/10, 10:15 p.m. CST, the count is at 738.