Most of my life I’ve heard stories about my feistiness as a little girl, about being a “strong-willed child” that my mom had to summon her strong willedness to guide. I am the first born extrovert of two strong-willed parents who taught me my whole life that my gender had nothing to do with my abilities, my dad’s mantra, “you can do hard things,” always in the back of my mind. This is the foundation I was given, a foundation of strength, of assurance, of faith.
Somehow I found myself searching for this foundation this year. It got buried under fear and confusion. I forgot my history. I forgot my faith. I forgot myself.
Last year I started working for a friend’s husband in sales. What started out as a fun way to get back into the workforce from being a stay at home mom ended up leaving me confused, hurt and eventually walking away furious.
The beginning was so good for me. I started in this new field and did really well, hitting goals quickly, making myself proud that I could, in fact, do this business thing after years spent at home changing diapers.
But the longer I was there the more I needed to see my therapist as my anxiety, the pressure to sell, my insecurities, my body image issues and my stress level all increased. As I processed these things with her, I started noticing patterns of the toxic work environment I was in from the racist and crude sexual jokes being made in the office to the embarrassing sales meetings where flaws were pointed out in front of the entire office and made fun of.
And for a little bit, I thought the problem was me. I thought I was too sensitive and too weak and too insecure and too anxious. I forgot myself and my worth. I got buried under all of that misogyny and the confusion it caused.
But then I remembered.
I remembered that sexual jokes made about me were not my fault. Nothing I said or did caused that treatment.
I remembered when I called my parents and told them everything that had happened at my office, when my dad said, “RUN. Get out as fast as you can and don’t look back. You are so much better than that.”
I remembered when I decided to quit and reported my boss’ inappropriate behavior and was blamed for not reporting it sooner.
I remembered when I posted as part of the #metoo campaign and was supported by friends and family.
I remembered when I told the truth.
I remembered as I got quiet over the next few months at home with my family, as I read and wrote and refueled and listened. I filled up with support and joy as I grieved the loss of a job and some important friendships.
I remembered that I am brave and fierce and that I am willing to walk away from things that aren’t good for me even when it hurts and even when it’s hard.
I remembered that I can do hard things.
And from what I’m seeing everywhere, I think lots of us are remembering. We’re remembering our strength, our worth, our dignity, our freedom.
If you’re having a hard time remembering, I encourage you to look back to who you were before you got covered up by the situation you’re in. Find your little girl self and remember her fire. Ask the Lord to remind you. Fill up with the support of family and friends who love you. Let them remind you of who you are so that you can remind others of who you are.
Remember. As you listen. As you tell the truth. As you say no. As you walk away. As you stay. Remember.