Anyway, we came into the store twenty minutes before closing. As it was almost eight, and a Friday, I was getting antsy as the twenty minutes dwindled to ten then five... I mean, everyone wants to go home Friday night after a long week at work, right? I gently reminded my husband that we should get going and was met with silence as he proceeded down to the lower level. "Come down here! You're gonna love it!" So, I did as my love of course knows what I love. There we found an item we were not even aware we needed : a vintage corn husker for only $290! I mean, what luck? And right before the store closed! What if we had left before coming downstairs? It could have been a disaster.
Unfortunately, at this point it was past 8 o'clock and the beer from dinner had worn off. My anxiety about inconveniencing someone went through the roof. We had to leave. This poor employee wanted to go home and only we were in his way. After very calmly discussing the reasons why a vintage corn-husker was not in our budget, I turned, went up the stairs and apologized profusely to the staff for keeping them trapped at work.
My husband walked up a few minutes later. As his beer was wearing off, he was experiencing separation anxiety from the corn husker he had to leave behind. He politely said "good night" and left the store, not even thinking twice that we were leaving late.
This little experience made me recall the book "Break Your Own Rules" by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Holt. In that book (which I recommend as reading for all women with female brains) there is a chapter called "Proceed Until Apprehended" and it describes the above situation (metaphorically). In life and in work, women really tend to seek approval and shy away from even the potential of confrontation. Men do the opposite. They do what they want until someone tells them to stop.
The issue came up again today in an off-site training class. The women in class were discussing one of their female co-workers, who is a nurse and an amazing educator. She was a relatively recent hire but did such a great job developing numerous projects that she quickly climbed in the ranks. Where she saw a need for a new system, she created it. The women were both proud of her and in awe. She had been so brave to go with what she wanted to do.
Their conversation made me wonder : why we don't advocate for ourselves? If we want a posted job but don't feel like we can meet the requirements 100%, we don't even bother to apply. Studies show that men, on average, feel like they need to be qualified for 60% of the requirements on a job posting to have that job. They believe, and rightfully so, that they can learn the other 40%. Women run households, which is a really complicated feat. Why do we not have faith in ourselves that we can run things at work? Why do we feel like we have to ask permission? Why do we worry so much about making someone upset? There are so many reasons for our complex behaviors, it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps, while we are figuring out the "why" we aren't doing things, we should simultaneously "just do it." (Dude, I swear I don't have stock in Nike.)
When my current boss initially got my CV, he asked, "What do you want to do (in your career)?" For the first time in my life, I told him exactly what I wanted to do - my dream job. He kindly presented the job description to the board of the hospital in the ensuing days. It was approved.
This was one of the biggest moments in my life, advocating for myself in my career. It has not only made a huge impact in my job, but in the way I see the world. I still have to be mindful to not reflexively think the way I did the night at the store. It is not something that comes naturally...yet. But, a huge motivation is knowing there are three little girls watching their mama really closely for how they should be. And how they should be is : running until apprehended.