Last year was one of the toughest years of my life.
Let me rewind by saying I’ve spent most of my life surrounded by women. There were only two men in our home and by the time I was 10 they were both gone; I attended all girl Catholic School from the ages of 5 through to 16 so most of my teachers were women and my peers were mostly female. As such, I may have developed a rather peculiar stance on womanhood and what it meant to be a girl.
Being a woman is…complicated.
Even words that are positive in other contexts seem to take on a negative connotation when used to describe women:
Suffice it to say, I’ve come a long way in healing my relationship with women across my lifetime, including myself, before enduring the marathon of 2021.
I’d switched careers early in 2020 before the world was sent home to work and took my work very seriously. I was pouring myself wholeheartedly into early mornings and late nights to deliver what I believed was service above and beyond what I was being called to do because it was necessary. Despite this, and despite being part of a women-led organization, I found myself very quickly being dragged into familiar patterns of competitiveness and negativity that reminded me of my teenage years.
One could easily chalk it up to the nature of women; “women being women” being equally as distasteful as “boys being boys” and “men being men”.
BUT something equally beautiful and wonderful ALSO happened at the very same time, which is the reason for this very long story.
As if to balance itself quickly, the universe sent a bevy of women to help set me straight, and I couldn’t help but take note of each of them as they shared their heart, advice, virtual coffee, and sustaining energy to help pull me through and up.
The first of these women was Christine Cariño (she/they/”siya”).
I still don’t remember how we initially connected but I do remember reading through her content on LinkedIn and thinking, “Dang…she’s a badass. If I ever find my voice on here I want to be exactly that brave and eloquent about issues”. Christine is a passionate advocate and a fearless voice to marginalized communities.
She pulled me aside in a virtual coffee chat one day where we chatted about my experience, and she offered me timely advice on how to approach the situation. I often think back on those 45 minutes as time spent in the corner of the ring with a coach during a cage match. Christine threw me a proverbial towel, told me to wipe my face, and get some pep in my step because “YOU GOT THIS”, and she was very right.
She also connected me with a recruiter to help me find my next position as I continued to conceive my next steps, and while that connection didn’t materialize, I felt encouraged and empowered that everything was going to be alright.
Yet, I was still shocked by what happened next.