I took a selfie picture of myself on International Women’s day. Actually, there were at least five of them. One of them won.
On that day, two friends noted me as a woman they admire. One of them said it was because of our victories. That made me stop what I was doing. Most people don’t know what my victories are.
There’s the professional stage presence. I work unbelievably hard in a career I’m passionate about. The victory is that I taught myself my career and am one of the pioneering folks from the mid 1990’s who jumped into web design and website promotion.
And then there’s the Soul presence directing the life show.
Unless you are someone who grew up with me, you can have no idea how victorious I actually am. I had help by people who saw me before I saw me. Teachers. Some of the parents of my friends. Co-workers. And finally, two bosses who plucked me out of the abyss because they saw potential.
I absorbed every nook and cranny of whatever I could learn to do my jobs better.
One day, sitting around a large conference table with the team of people working on a project running behind schedule, a woman I didn’t know rose up from her chair and demanded that everyone would be required to come in that weekend and work until the project was completed.
I told her I would not be able to do that, as a single mother of two children. I’ll never forget the look on her face. She didn’t see me at all. She saw a deadline. She demanded sacrifices to her deadline gods.
My boss knew that I was the type of employee who refused to take time off, worked overtime and weekends when the kids were with their father. It was my weekend with my children.
My sacred time with my children.
He understood this and spoke up. My boss corrected the woman and told her that I had already put in the overtime and done an exemplary job. I was even given an award when it was all said and done with.
But I never forgot her scowl. Her disapproval. Her total lack of empathy or understanding. From a woman, I had been hit by a bullet of judgement and singled out in a room of men.
And I was defended by one of them.
I counted that moment as a personal victory.
I Am Always On A Battlefield
Most days it doesn’t feel like war.
My victories are usually observations and personal revelations.
Like the other day when I mentioned to my husband that one of my friends is famous now. I have lots of famous friends who work in the digital marketing, usability, and accessibility professions.
I know many famous leaders who were friends and aren’t anymore. They act like they don’t know me. I try hard to wish them well anyway. I knew them when they were small.
I think sometimes you have to be big to be seen by others who think they are big.
We once met one my famous friends in Philadelphia when he was in town for a conference. My husband and I took the train into the city to take him to the Reading Market. It’s a trip for Ruben sandwiches, the candy store, and bakeries. We stopped to hear some young people playing drums on the street. I cherished every moment that we had. I love my friends.
I had no idea he was famous until about two months ago.
No matter how big he gets, I trust he will still be my friend. There will be no battle for his acknowledgement of me.
True victories can be gentle advisors. They don’t erase your memories for how you won.
I remember the night I went off anti-depressants, cold turkey. A friend from Oregon stayed on the phone with me all night long because of the risks of doing what I was doing.
I needed to be free to go into battle in new ways. It wasn’t anything I could explain, and it was against medical advice. I wasn’t depressed. I was unsupported.
There was a huge difference.
I chose to search how to support myself better. That victory was deeply personal because I had left myself with the choice of only one possible outcome, which was to be a better me.
Looking at myself on International Women’s Day, 26 years or so since that night, and years and years of crushing failures since, I thought to take a selfie to mark the day where people were honoring women for all sorts of things, but all I wanted to do was look at me and smile.
One of my friends Facebook messaged me a few days ago to share one of her life victories. She is one of the few people for whom I am willing to ask my dumbest web development questions and she will never hesitate to help or make me feel inadequate for reaching out. Her news was of an achievement she well deserved.
She wrote, “Kim, this is your year too.”
I look forward to my next victory.