Monday, May 23, 2011
The Invisible Woman Who fails at Being Her Own Representative
On a physical level, I am not my own representative. I have been cursed (or blessed?) with a baby face and I know whenever people look at me they NEVER see me as who I am. I'm always the high school (or sometimes even junior high school) kid who,strangely, never has bag large enough for school books, or comes off unnaturally mature for my age. I'm the child who has the audacity to think I can get away with buying liquor or going into a 21 & over club. Or sometimes the cops eye me funny, assuming I'm skipping school.
I am also physically small, so people automatically equate me with a child. I'll never forget when my college friends expressed to me how they can never envision me being intimate or having a child because I'm just like a child myself.
Then there's the main issue. In my head I envision myself In short skirts, booty shorts, back out...etc., but my lifelong battle with a skin ailment has never afforded me the esteem to deal with people staring at my skin, wondering if I'm contagious. So I became the girl who dresses conservatively (long sleeves and pants even in the summer!), which translates into me being a conservative person.
The reality of it is I'm NEITHER of these things! I am not a high school student, I don't feel small and I am not a conservative dresser nor person--at least in my own mind. To everyone else, I am what they see of me.
I also have this issue on a mental level. I had a boss once tell me that I am not enthusiastic about my job simply because I appear not to be so. I was shocked because I was very much enthused about the work I was doing, and the mission of the organization itself. She told me "you don't show off your work. You don't seem to the be the person that you say you are." She also said if not for the few one-to-one conversations that we had, she would've never thought I was intelligent or even cared about anything I was doing. Her advice was that I should be more vocal about my accomplishments and COMMAND respect.
I had a hard time accepting this. I realized, I have to become someone who I am not in order to prove to other people that I am of value. I have to gloat, which I deem unecessary. I don't feed off of external validation so what would gloating do for me? But, according to her, I needed to become my own representative.
Should I have changed who I was, just to stay in the game? Or should my boss have expanded her view of a successful employee in order to tap into my resources?
How does one become their own best representative?