Be Yourself

Yesterday was fantastic, professionally. I delivered some kick-ass service that’s really helped a couple of clients get to where they wanna be. Projects like that are just plain fun.

I learned an important lesson, too.

You get advice as a youngster starting out in the world that seems conflicting. Goodness knows I always thought it did! You’re told on the one hand to “be yourself”. Then you’re told “be professional.”

Well, “myself” is hardly the image of the professional woman. All suits, sobersides and cool efficiency isn’t me.

I didn’t claim the stuff I did in the poly community on my resume.

I would even tone down my accent in the office1. Now, I did that even when I lived in Virginia, because there is a perception that thick accent indicates a lack of erudition.

When I quit working as an administrative assistant, I was taking a big risk, and I really decided to go whole hawg. I re-wrote my resume as a CV. If I had relevant experience, I claimed it, by God! That means my CV2 shows the polyamory stuff.   And I found out that it worked.  It got me shots at work I wanted.

When I teach?  I let the accent run wild and free.  It doesn’t make me appear stupid.  It makes me appear approachable.  The colloquialisms that come out when I relax my diction are funny.   When you’re teaching something as dry as computer applications, humor is necessary or your class goes to sleep.     Approachability?  That’s even more important.  Students have to ask questions to learn!

Part of it had to do with a misunderstanding of what “professional” means.  To be professional only means you’re delivering a good service in the context of your environment.   If you’re a lawyer, it might mean a suit.  But, I know of at least one lawyer, however, who has her own version of a writin’ chair and probably works in her robe and slippers as often as I do.   Your eccentricities are assets if you take the trouble to understand them.

Being yourself just as hard as you can is really what works, because then you’re centered in the joy of what you’re doing.   As foo-foo and woo-woo as it sounds, the other rewards come when you do it.  Every dollar joyfully earned is worth two earned with grudging effort.   When you’re centered in being you you’re delighted to work as hard as is necessary to get what you want, but it doesn’t feel like work.  You’re just doing what you do and it’s great.

1 Mostly Richmond, VA with overtones of Stafford County.
2A Curriculum Vitae is not only for the academic or the medical professional. If you have a “nonstandard” life of any sort, if you do volunteer work that is experience in something you’d be interested in being paid to do (organizing cons translates into events planning!), if you’ve written a lot… All these things are life experience you can put on a CV. It’s more useful than a resume and gives a clearer picture of what you have done and can do.

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