With a very contentious election coming up, I thought I’d lean back into my political days for a brief moment.
Don’t worry. I promise not to talk Republican or Democrat because I’m as sick of it as you are.
Let’s talk “glass ceiling.”
According to Google (my primary source for all definitions) it’s an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, especially affecting women and members of minorities.
In short, it’s a theory that women and minorities can’t seem to get the same opportunities as white men.
Well, I’ve gotta tell ya’. I believe the glass ceiling is a bunch of bologna. To put in Italian, itsa crapola.
I think it’s an excuse for those who choose not to be accountable for their circumstances.
I know that’s gonna hurt some feelings, and I’m sorry.
Those barriers are only going to be there if you let them. I believe it with my whole being, and I’ll tell you why.
Let’s say Susie works for a large corporation. She’s been hoping to get promoted to that account executive position, but men seem to keep getting chosen. Susie is more than qualified and outperforms her male counterparts on a consistent basis.
Susie has a few choices:
- “Whah, Whah, Whah all the way home” and continue working for a company that will never see her value.
- Give ‘em the old “deuces” and get a job with another company that values her work.
- Start her own darn business because she’s smarter than all of them anyway.
In option 1, Susie plays the victim and cries “poor pitiful me” every time a promotion comes around. She is choosing her circumstance.
Let me say that again for the people in the back.
SHE’S CHOOSING HER CIRCUMSTANCE.
It’s that simple to me. But I’m a bootstraps kind of gal. Susie can let the people in power determine her path, or she can tell the people in power to stick where the sun don’t shine.
And before you come at me with “women are paid less than men for doing the same job,” I’ve got to tell you that I’m never underpaid at my job because I choose my worth. I determine my value.
That deserves the old 3 Snaps in Z formation!
When I was hired at one of my first political jobs out of college, my direct supervisor said to me, “Look, as a female in politics, you have two choices. You can be a B***H or a WH*RE. You have to choose.”
Y’all, you can’t even make this stuff up. I’m serious. He was telling ME what my choices were as a female.
Truthfully, that job was kind of menial and certainly didn’t require me to be either of those things. But I was good at it, and I loved succeeding.
I got promoted fairly quickly and ended up taking that guy’s job. I was willing to do just about anything to be taken seriously at 26 because my new position required me to hob-knob with some pretty influential men while representing my boss, a U.S. Senator from Alabama.
I can’t pretend that being a tall female with confidence didn’t help me hold my own in this world of southern men, but just to make sure, I decided to wear 3 inch heels to every meeting, appearance and fundraiser and even cut my hair short (OMG! It was a horrible look). I didn’t just intend to be the tallest woman in the room. I was going to be one of the tallest people in the room with a look and attitude that said, “I’m a B-O-S-S.”
You can imagine some of the dirtbags I met along the way, but I cared not whether Mr. Party Pants (the guy who would leave disgusting messages on the office answering machine for me) was also a major donor or whether the guy in the other Senator’s office treated me like I was less than worthy of being his peer. I was a hustler, and I planned to give just as good as “they” did. One time my boss, The Senata’, as he was known in the South, told my mother that he had never seen someone so young move up the ladder so quickly. I LOVED it!
Here’s where it gets good.
I can still picture this moment as clear as day and MAN, do I love this memory.
My direct supervisor and I were having lunch in D.C. at some small cafe table outside. He wanted to give me a heads up that the Chief of Staff was planning to offer me a promotion later that day.
This moment right here gives me so much satisfaction:
I replied, “Oh, well, I’m actually about to resign because I’m starting a dance studio.”
Y’all, he about fell out of his chair. How could I leave this prestigious position at only 28 to teach dance? I mean not many people (especially women) get the kind of opportunity that HE was going to bestow upon me.
His reply to me was was as clear an example of someone realizing they were losing control of a situation as you might imagine:
“You should probably rethink that because you’re not very good with people.”
Oooooh. Y’all. That lit a fire so deep inside of me that it still burns 16 years later.
See, HE had already made up is mind what my value was. I was only worth what he was going to give me. I was not going to be good enough for anything but what he gave me permission to be.
Now, we know that Option 1 Susie would have straight up accepted that promotion and would have given up on her dreams because some good ol’ boy told her too.
I have to be real for a minute. He was partially correct. I am 100% NOT good with people who try to control me (aka tell me what to do), threaten me, dismiss me or pretend to be superior to me. I’m pretty good with everyone else. He fell into one (or more) of those categories.
Oh, and did mention that I was WAY taller than him too?
Starting my own business in 2005 was very hard particularly when the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008. But in 2011, I doubled the size of my studio. In that moment, I wanted to call that guy and say, “not good with people, huh?”
In early 2019, I moved into my brand new 11,000 square foot studio which was almost quadruple what I’d started with in 2005. “Not good with people, huh?”
Also in 2019, I hired my first full time employee followed shortly by my second full time employee in 2020. “Not good with people, huh?”
Those are the moments I live for. I want my daughter and ALL young women to know that you can carve you own path. People may tell you that you’re not good enough or make you feel like you’re not worthy, but what they’re really saying is that they’re angry you won’t be their doormat.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that all women should own their own businesses, because that’s not realistic. I am saying that being clear about what you’re worth and what you realistically have to offer others will ultimately place you in circumstances that allow you to prosper.
What we (as women) can’t do is act like victims. We can’t whine about the good ol’ boys. We can’t blame the world. And we certainly CAN NOT make excuses.
I have a line that I often use with my students:
The people who make the best excuses also make the best coffee (for someone else).
I’ll wrap up with this last thought.
Remember that nursery rhyme about going on a bear hunt? That’s how I want my daughter to approach any obstacle thrown her way.
“Can’t go under it.
Can’t go over it.
Gotta go through it.”
Go through it, sweet girl!
BUST. STRAIGHT. THROUGH. IT!
And by they way, you can do it all without being a B***H or a WH*RE.