My new (school) year's resolution

Come August in Florida, no one would blame you for moving to Nantucket.


By this point, your "sun's out, buns out" summer enthusiasm has suffocated. What remains is meltingly passive-aggressive commentary about Boston's expense and uninhabitability, and the privilege of an olympic-sized pool at your back door. Both of those things are lies. Because once upon a summer in Boston, you made snobbish-aggressive commentary about Florida's heat and uninhabitability, and the privilege of a walkable city at your front door.

Come August in Florida, you start scrolling Zillow in 'Sconset.

The universal August theme between North and South Nantucket (as I would like to hereby rename Nantucket and Palm Beach, respectively) is the feeling of fresh starts. That means new goals, a refocus for the year (a refocus that didn't occur at the half-year, due to aforementioned Buns Out.)
The BEST Nantucket guide

My new (school) year's resolution: stop making myself small.

It began in elementary school, as all social neuroses must: dutifully lacing "like" and "totally" into my speech after the 5th grade alpha girl declared she didn't want "a dictionary friend." (A dictionary definition of a friend, or a friend that was a dictionary? Ah, how youth favors the ultra-blonde and semi-literate.) These careful linguistic ministrations paid off in med school, when meeting the canary-like D--: she was eager to report back to "The Girls" that I was Actually Nice, as they "wanted to hate (me) for being too pretty." (Ah, how medical school elevates the passively attractive into Too Pretty.) When going to parties during residency, I saw the surprising discomfort when someone found out I was a neurosurgeon at Harvard... so I began saying I was a yoga teacher instead.

Is it odd that this whittling away still continues? In an era when actual basket-weavers are knighted as "FemaleFounders", haven't we LeanedIn past such belittling mentalities? Is MLM the new owner of #GirlBoss?

Last year, I changed my call schedule for a woman who unironically referred to herself with that hashtag. She was an employee in a medium-sized company with a sometimes-administrative assistant, and she was coming in from out of town. I gleefully told her that my schedule was (literally) cleared for her; when she decided not to show up, I wished her well. She later revealed that she disappeared because I failed to display "enough enthusiasm" about the visit-- only for me to jokingly admit: the actual highest amount of enthusiasm a doctor can display is changing the sacrosanct call schedule.

In startling reply: "well, boo hoo that we all can't be Fancy Doctors like you." This phrase failed to make conversational or logical sense, but it did humiliate me: it was a deliberate tactic to Put Me In My Place. I still wonder exactly why my doctor-hood bothered so, why another woman believed I should be ashamed of it. And what did it say about my self-awareness, that I, for an instant, WAS ashamed of it?

Has anyone else experienced this sort of profession-minimizing? Is this for women only, for (medical) doctors only, or is everyone just an absolute boor these days?

Setting aside those questions, in the past I was ultra-sensitive to avoid giving insult. Like the Bhagavad-Gita, I believed pride was horrifically devilish. I did everything I could to socially shrink away my CV, as if it would once again make me that "dictionary friend."

No more.

I was recently involved in a situation with my son that was not playing out fairly, either financially or educationally. At long last, I propelled myself into the full strength of my convictions. I stopped caring if I came across too strongly. I stopped caring if I was bragging or intimidating. I stopped caring about the former Worst Trait of All: Not Being Pretty. It required my procreation to stop caring, and perhaps that reflects negatively on my character, but that is the honest twist to my plot: The Baby. My son has pulled me into a previously shirked position: an eyebrow-raised, steel-souled erectness of posture and self-assuredness.

Maybe this is the transformation we all go through as women, and my nonchalant writing-off of the above #GirlBosses was too aburpt, hypocritical. Maybe they were doing exactly the same: reaching up to their own fullest extent, in a world that wants us to be smaller, prettier. The ruthlessly demanding job stay-at-home-mom has been maligned for ages-- was it inevitable that caregivers of the M.D. type also feel the condescension?

Is this just another instance of Boston vs. Florida, with professions instead of locations?

Maybe we all need to rise to the full stature of our station: confident, un-manipulable. I certainly will name-drop and credential-drop PRN. I suspect that, out of longstanding habit, I'll watch out for the sin of pride in myself. However, now I won't change myself to accommodate the sin of pride in another.

There is a chance that I'll be deemed "not pretty on the inside"... but aren't I too old to be worried about that?

Yes. I've graduated from last year, and I look forward to the new (school) year ahead.

What are you promising yourself for your new (school) year's resolution?


And here's how I'm planning for the new year! 
(Click on the picture above to watch my planner setup :)

(See below for links to the items used in the planner)
smallest sized moleskine notebook
 the greatest of these is love (the post that I referenced in the video!)

P.S.: my work planner set-up!

4 comments:

  1. I regularly omit working in tech when I meet new people in a certain crowd due to anti-tech sentiment in the area. It's just not worth the annoyance of the conversation with people who don't want to hear about it. But closer to this post, I rarely bring up my PhD (and do only to give people a good whack around the ears when they aren't being respectful) and usually just call it "grad school" and not mentioning where. I have risen quickly to top 5% of employees at my company due to very strong contributions. Yet, it is considered gauche to claim credit for your work - well-meaning male colleagues recommend "don't just outright say what you did, be more subtle" (including in promotion packets!) without recognizing the privilege that that assumes that a champion exists who will talk for you (when womens' accomplishments, particularly in this field, are often minimized, particularly if part of a team). So, yup. - I..

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    1. I am shocked to hear that there are anti-tech people!! Most people would be afraid to tell me they were Googlers (for example), but only because they would be (rightfully) scared I would skin and wear them.
      I am SO GLAD you spoke up about the PhD part-- rightfully so, please whack away. Also: get out of my head. I DELETED a part about PhDs being the most useful whacking tool, giving a counter-point of a "fashionista" blogger who regularly berates people about an obscure (unrelated) master's she got decades ago.
      I am so, so proud of you, not only for excelling to the top, but also excelling in such tricky social strata. Where you are, are there LeanIn groups? That book honestly saved my career: the part about "doing exactly what you need to do, but with a smile on your face and a wink" was huge for me (paraphrasing).
      The promotion packets things makes me so annoyed on your behalf, but you bring up a good point I hadn't considered: "the privilege that assumes a champion exists for you". We all need a champion at work-- at least you know I'll be you champion from afar <3

      Thank you for writing in -- I was moments away from deleting this, thinking no one reads here!

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  2. Love this one! (althought I love all of them, Im a bit biased I suppose) But being a business owner, albeit small, you get a weird reaction from people when you tell them you work for yourself. I think once you say you are your own boss as a woman these days, people automatically associate it with the direct marketing schemes taking over the world around us, because apparently thats the only way a woman can work for herself apparently? #girlboss #ihatehashtags #especiallythatone Then once they realize its a brick and mortar business, its always a weird reaction, like 'thats nice' or 'cute'. Its a little off putting, and I find myself reluctant to mention it around certain crowds. As if by answering the question, what do you do?, is me being prideful or boasting, when in reality, im just answering the question honestly. Interesting that know matter what level your at, people do not like you to do better then them. And if you are, your 'snobby' or 'materialistic'. Have to try to be less apologetic and more secure that I dont care what others have to say.

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    1. Ahhh so many good observations! Sometimes I think I write just to hear what is out there-- thank you very very much for this. Two of my cousins (well not just two, but the ones I'm thinking about) are small business owners. The man: he is roundly congratulated when he introduces this concept. The woman: I suspect similar to what you've received.

      I'm really fascinated by this concept that difficult jobs are being made light of, because others have taken over weighty concepts. In an earlier comment, I noted my annoyance that people were lambasting their masters degrees, but PhDs are supposed to be ashamed of theirs (and maybe the MLM concept has its parallel to small businesses, but I'm really speaking out of conjecture here, since I don't know tons about either). When I step back from it though-- it's nice that MLM and master's people can be proud (I mean, not the particular person I referenced- she was doing it to make people feel bad about being uncultured).

      But small business owners, as well as engineering gurus, should not be made to feel comparatively small!! They have worked harder-- it's ok to acknowledge that and revere them (personally I'm in the mind that small business ownership is like being the patient and the doctor at the same time: frightening and HARD). I am really turned off by any reaction to a woman (well probably to anyone, but it seems it happens mostly to us) that involves "cute" when she puts her blood sweat and tears on the line.

      And yes I hate hashtags also, that made me laugh really hard.

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