BEING ONE OF THE GUYS
We women often want to be 'one of the guys'. Because if men can do it, we should be able to do it too, right? Even if we have to completely exhaust ourselves? How come we can’t do the exact same? Simple: we’re just not men. Easy. Conversation over. We are women! Not men. And many of us are also mothers. We just have to appreciate that. We simply have talents that men do not, and it's the same the other way around. Yeah, really :-)
ONE OF THE GUYS
I myself also wanted to be "one of the guys". Raised in an entrepreneurial family, in between two brothers, complaining wasn't really a thing. The motto was not to complain and just keep going. By itself there is not much wrong with that motto, after all I often tell it to my own children. But this motto didn't really stimulate my soft feminine side. Anyway, I had to hold my own between my brothers, who enjoyed bullying their sister every now and then. Don't get me wrong, it has made me a lot stronger and I love them very much. But complaining or "crying" was simply not an option. It made me who I am. Over the years I have learned to develop a softer side(but of course I will never become a wuss he he).
My upbringing has made me very direct, not mean, just direct. The way men speak usually. Immediately say what you think, without softening your words, and then continue the conversation. Some men were surprised by me, other men thought I was cool. They quickly saw me as "one of the guys". But I was seen as a "bitch" by a large group of women. At the time, I had no idea why, because I didn't say anything mean. Eventually I understood that my directness and my sometimes somewhat gruff aura were the cause. At the time, I thought it was all fine. I was part of a group, part of the guys that is. Cool and tough!
Years later, married and a mother of three children, life went fine for me. After each delivery, I was back at work within a maximum of 10 days. Sitting at home was not an option. I didn't want that either, I loved working. And liked (and like) my children very much. It all went well for me too. Working full-time, the kids and a good meal every evening. After all, we have to eat healthy. Yet many people who didn't know me well still saw me as a bitch. But why? In the meantime I had become a mother and had already become a lot softer.
After some coaching trajectories and a single psychologist, I found out that I did not allow my feelings to come to the surface. Yes dûh… I didn't have time for that. My busy schedule really didn't have time for that. But if you don't show much of yourself to others, people will automatically judge and label you. Thus I was seen as a bitch… During that time I became more interested in personal development. Read books about it and developed myself further. For example, I recently read the book LEAN IN by Sheryl Sandberg and recognized a lot of myself in it.
Sheryl Sandberg is an enterprising mother who has a pretty tough job as COO at one of the most famous companies in the world. Facebook. In her book she explains that she started working at Facebook. At the time, only 550 people worked there. A start-up, a real challenge. But what often happens at start-ups is that they work 24/7. As a working mother, in a normal job, it is often already a challenge to plan everything well. But as the mother of two growing children at a start-up, that literally means participating in the Olympic games in the PLANING section. As a woman she was also quite hard on herself and, as a woman and as a mother, of course did not want to let herself down.
The first year at Facebook was really difficult. I know I should say "challenging", but "really difficult" makes more sense. Following Mark (CEO facebook), many technical people within the company worked night after night. If I had a meeting with someone at nine in the morning, they would not show up because they would assume I meant nine in the evening. I had to be there when the others were there, and I was worried that if I left the office too early, I would come across as a hypersensitive old bat. “
-Sheryl Sandberg in Lean In
She planned her butt off in order to be home on time, even giving up on sleeping hours so that she could still eat with her growing children. Due to the 24/7 mentality of the start-up, her personal agenda and activities decreased. In principle, things went well at home, her dear husband took care of the children. He appreciated her ambition & drive. But she herself was not doing so well, she writes. Something had to change. Over the years she had learned that if she wanted to change something, she had to change herself. And so she did. She has forced herself to leave the office no later than half past five as often as possible. She felt guilty and this was difficult at first, but it worked. Of course she still worked more than 40 hours working weeks. After all, Facebook is available 24 hours a day, so she worked at different hours.
That "no complaining" mentality will never disappear. I too will always feel guilty. This works differently for men, their feeling of guilt is much less than for us women. But I am a woman, mother and entrepreneur. Nowadays I have a lot more understanding for myself and other women. Sometimes you just can't do everything at once and that's fine. Is everything going wrong? Then I stop for a moment and wonder why things are going wrong. I force myself to think and see how I can do things differently. I often take a break to do this. I take a rest in the form of sleeping in, exercising, watching 'say yes to the dress' or binge-watching any other series without shame. Sounds strange, of course, because that takes even more time. But you have to give your head a rest sometimes, it works wonders. It is the tranquility that is critical to your development. The development of yourself, but also the development of your motherhood, children, relationship, ambition, ideas, company and so on.
If you are occasionally in trouble with your time or behavior ;-) here are a few experience tips to make it all a bit easier.
• Lady .. take your private life seriously. You don't really want to have people around you who don't respect that. There is always a balance to be found. You just have to sit down for it. So often reflect on your private-work balance. See where it goes wrong and try to find a solution. Talking about it also helps.
• If things don't work out in your schedule, sit down and see what you can do differently. For example, I have completely thrown my email off my phone. Wow and that really gave me peace of mind!
• You are a woman, maybe a mother, that is a primal feeling. Accept that. Don't feel guilty. We ladies do things differently. You don't have to be one of the guys. You are a woman! Damn, and a great one at that!
Sheryl Sandberg's inspiring book LEAN IN is available for somewhere around €15 at bol.com.
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