To be me, or not to be me — that is the question!
Just because I’m a ‘bit loud’… doesn’t mean I’m a bad person!
For those of you know me the following introduction will be no surprise…
My name is Kate and I have ICHBBM (I can’t help but be me) disorder.
I have an ‘outrageous’ personality (according to ‘the establishment’ that is). I laugh too loud, tell too many jokes, swear too much — let’s just say you usually know when I walk into a room but not everyone is always pleased to see me. It’s not on purpose I swear! I was really just born without two things considered necessary for ‘ladies etiquette’…. a volume button and verbal filter!
I have always worked in male dominated environments and ABSOLUTELY understand the additional ‘burden of proof’ and obstacles some women face in terms of positioning their credibility and worth in a business environment — especially when you’re ‘blessed’ with a personality like mine!
However — over the years I have learned that I owe a lot of my success to my personality. It has helped me be noticed, which opened doors to conversations, which lead to connections, which lead to credibility. which lead to opportunity…. You get the picture. The point is — I genuinely believe I would not be anywhere near where I am today without ICHBBM.
I have learned:
- The more I am me, the more my strengths are able to shine
- The more I am me, the less energy I have to put into being someone else
- The more I am me, the more sure I am to surround myself with people who trust and respect me — not the person I am pretending to be.
For years I tried to deny my true personality and ‘fit in’ and made myself miserable in the process. Seriously miserable. I was racked with self-doubt, second guessed every decision I took and left every business meeting wishing I could go back and do it over.
I can thankfully say that is (mostly) behind me… or at least I thought it was.
A few weeks ago I reached out to a media savvy friend of mine to pick their brains about the impending launch of my virtual coaching programme. We had a great chat and they kindly offered to give me some contact names I could approach as a referral — I was delighted and grateful.
Fast forward to today when I send an e-mail to one of the referrals and cc’d my friend in as a courtesy — and I receive a text from my friend literally SCOLDING me like a CHILD for the tone I struck in the e-mail — finishing the text with “don’t do it again”. I was so shocked, angry, mortified and confused I had difficulty digesting it.
Here was a long term friend who I loved dearly treating me like a sycophantic child — and why? Having reread the initial email several times it composes of nothing but a very friendly email outlining the ‘what, who & why’ and asking them to email me back. There is no insult, abuse or unprofessionalism. It is genuine.
But there WAS me.
The email had MY personality in it which mean it WASN’T was a staid, cookie-cutter, carrot-up-the-butt formal e-mail… and apparently that WASN’T OK.
My friend was saying that I was affecting their credibility because my [quote] “tone was way off the mark — far too casual”… Who knew?!? Apparently credibility can only be achieved when accompanied by the dour tone of impending doom.
So here I sit once again second guessing myself and trying to ‘fit-in’… but the difference this time is that I am NOT racked with self-doubt…
What I am, is OVER the old school mentality that you have to talk or act a certain way for people to respect you — especially when you’re a female. The world has moved on and the way we interact with each other needs to as well:
- God forbid we were genuinely friendly or REAL at any point during a business conversation — or any conversation.
- God forbid we dropped the pretence and reached out to someone on the most genuine possible terms — with no front.
- God forbid we were just — well — us!
These events have stirred me — which is perhaps a sign itself of how far I’ve come. It shows that’s I’m not used to feeling like ‘being me isn’t OK’ anymore.
Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. PS) Here’s the shameless plug for “KILLING IT (A girl’s guide to KICKING ASS in her career and life)”… my virtual coaching programme. Go to: www.thatabstractcat.com for sheer awesomeness.
I would have hoped my friend had enough faith and respect for both myself and the referral to trust that we would draw conclusions based on the SUBSTANCE of each other — not whether the tone of an initial email was ‘too casual’.
So my dear friend — I’m sorry if you feel that ‘me being me’ has tarnished your reputation so terribly but as Oscar Wilde put it…
…Be yourself… Everyone else is taken!
PS) Here’s the shameless plug for “KILLING IT (A girl’s guide to KICKING ASS in her career and life)”… my virtual coaching programme.
Go to: www.thatabstractcat.com for sheer awesomeness.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on March 13, 2017.