International Women's Day

I was recently asked to sit on a panel of women for International Women's Day. As we went around the virtual room introducing ourselves I immediately felt out of my league. These were all smart accomplished women who were so much more qualified to speak on women's issues than myself. After all, who was I?  This experience definitely started to trigger a long-held insecurity within me. OMG....what did I get myself into? How long is this going to last? How am I going to get myself out of this? 

I come from a family of smart people. My father earned a masters in Hospital Administration & went on to have an accomplished career. Even years after retirement he is still well respected in his field. He wrote a book & even had an elementary school named after him. My brother has a masters in business & my sister earned her PHD in counseling. Me, I was lucky that I even finished school. Nothing in school ever came easy for me. I always tried my best, but my grades were just average. I never thrived in the traditional education system. Maybe we can call it a right brain vs left brain kind of issue.  I always joke that  my siblings got the book smarts & I got the street smarts. 

I have a fear of math, but even more so, I have a crippling fear of looking "stupid" in front of others. When I was younger my father would make me figure out the tip whenever we went out to eat. Back then it was customary to tip 15%. This made that math that he wanted me to figure out in my head even harder. Finally I realized that once we were done eating if I went to hide in the ladies room long enough while the bill was being paid then I wouldn't have to figure out 15% of $53.47 while the entire table stared at me. 

I know that I am good at a lot of things.  I am a talented artist. I am quick witted & can make people laugh. I am an excellent cook and I make a mean Texas chocolate sheet cake. I am a good entertainer just like my mom & grandmother. I have a knack for design. I am well organized & pretty good at running and managing a home. And most importantly, I think I've done a pretty good job as a mom.

So here I am listening to these educated, accomplished, smart women from all over the world speak so eloquently on gender equality, inclusivity, bodily autonomy & all I can think was "Fuck, please, please, please, for the love of God let me get through this without being asked my opinion. Because even though I know what I want to say I usually fumble my words  under pressure. Then it happened. Just when I thought the coast was clear the moderator says "Kelly, we haven't heard from you." WTF? And before I knew what was happening I unmuted my mic and my insecurities spilled out all over that Zoom call. Utterly mortifying! As a stay-at-home mom for the last 16 years I felt completely unqualified to speak on the topic of women in the workplace. I couldn't impart my wisdom on the topic of how women are marginalized in our patriarchal society. Then do you know what happened? They started supporting me. They started lifting me up. They reminded me of what I had accomplished. That after being out of the work force for so long, I was on the road to reinventing myself. That no matter what age you are, it is never too late to follow your passions & chart a new course for a career. They helped me understand that I was a good role model for my girls. Now don't get me wrong, it was still beyond embarrassing that this discussion had suddenly become all about me, when all I was trying to do was fade into the background. And yet, it  was also empowering and beautiful at the same time. 

I guess ultimately that is what International Women's Day is all about. Empowering women. Lifting each other up. 

When I shared this blog with a few of my most trusted female confidants a couple of them said that they were sad that I felt this way.  Truly, I am good! I am so very proud of myself and what I have accomplished in my life. However, I will forever run from any kind of math. I will always try to seek out & absorb information from the most knowledgeable source that I can find on any given topic because I am smart enough to know that so many of us are speaking out of turn these days.  I know when it is my time to speak & my time to listen. And how great is it that there are so many smart women out there for me to listen to!

So here I am working on myself, working on my art, building a new business, getting out of my comfort zone and recognizing "Behind every Successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have their back"- unknown