As one might expect…choosing to no longer make “isms” discussions at work, might garner some reactions. I wrote this a while back on my private facebook account and thought maybe this might help someone else experiencing reactions.
Last week, a work colleague in the community gave me a “friendly warning” (their words) that if I keep speaking up people will be afraid to be around me – I might make them feel tired, bad, uncomfortable or angry (their words). That I should learn to “pick my battles over what was worth highlighting and what I could ignore” (their words).
My first reaction was to laugh as clearly this person doesn’t really know me. I have never been an easy “go with the flow” person. I’ve always been outspoken. I’ve always been willing to engage in conflict. I’ve always been invested in learning and helping others learn – which means I have to challenge myself and others. I’m also the person that will go to whatever lengths needed to support people. I chalked this “warning” up to being good intent but ridiculous and moved on.
Until this morning – and I realized how powerful this threat (my words) really could be. After Connor died, I lost a lot of “friends”. I was hard to be around. I couldn’t be quickly fixed. I didn’t want to be happy. My relationships needed to change but to what – I didn’t know. Some hung in with me though anything. Some struggled but we found our way. Some came around years later. Some I haven’t spoken to in 16 years. That loss was painful on top of the loss I was experiencing with my son – it was isolating. I’ve always known that this impacted me in ways that I feel today.
Early last year, I made a commitment to not be silent in any part of my life (I had been selective before and choosing my battles). I’m going to challenge any isms including ones I do. It’s not from a place of judgement – it’s from a place of wanting equity in this world. I’m going to be real with people. If you are on my Facebook list – I consider you a friend. I am under no obligation to smile and eat whatever you are selling. Friends have discussions. Friends have debates. Friends learn from each other. Work colleagues on my page are friends – or I would just have you on LinkedIn. If you only want to see funny pictures of my life, that’s not a friend to me. Those are the people that left me at my lowest- I learned that lesson to not invest in that again. So I would wish you well and focus where I need.
And I can logically say all of that and mean it and yet…this morning that threat popped into my head. You won’t get invited to anything if you say something. You will be removed from the group if you call that out. You will be talked about as being a variety of negative things. Your work will be impacted. I almost kept quiet. At this point in my life, I don’t need anyone to like me and yet this silencing technique almost worked. Luckily my hope for equity outweighs anything else. So I will continue to make offers to my friends. Offers for discussions. Offers for challenging assumptions. Offers to engage. Offers in personal and professional life. And I ask that you do the same for me. The world only gets better with conversations. But if you don’t want that – I will honor our past and wish you well.
This woman is going to post the good, funny, and ugly of life. This woman is willing to do the labor and invest in learning. This woman will not be threatened into silence. I’ve experienced loss and survived. Now is the time to make this world what it could be.
So sir – I’m not interested in your warning and it definitely wasn’t friendly.
If you are experiencing “warnings”, you are not alone and I hope you choose to continue with me. The only way equity in this world will happen.