I work in a wide-open office with six of my peers; my boss and deputy are tucked into the back of this office in closet-sized, open door spaces. Which means that there is ZERO privacy (or quiet!) in said office. My desk is closest to the entrance and naturally draws the gaze when you step across the threshold which means that people are always lurking about, reading over my shoulder
Seeing me attach pictures for Sunday’s blog post, my boss stopped mid-stride to ask what are you doing? (I should note that I am underway on a ship and therefore technically working 24/7 and perfectly allowed to write my blog in my free time).
“Writing my blog post,” I replied
“You have a blog?”
“What’s it about?”
“Well…technically, it’s a fashion blog. You know? About glamour and clothes and stuff. But really, it’s about whatever I’m thinking about.”
He stopped to think for a moment and then his eyes narrowed. “Do you write about me?” His brows were furrowed and he looked suddenly very nervous and quite concerned.
I bit down on my lip, but couldn’t fully put a stop to the smile on my face. “Hmm…” I said, “Not yet.”
My boss frowned at me at that point, not certain if I was joking and walked out of the office.
I laughed pretty hard once he left. I still laugh whenever I think of it.
In those brief minutes of conversation, our power dynamic shifted. I was suddenly He-Man with raised sword, yelling “I HAVE THE POWER.” (My co-worker, who is reading over my shoulder, just corrected me: “BY THE POWER OF GRAYSKULL…I HAVE THE POWER” is apparently what He-Man actually said. whatever)
The power to do what, exactly?
There is power in words. There is an inarguable advantage to being able to tell your own story, using your choice of words in your very own voice. So many times as a woman in a very male-dominated profession, I am boxed into a corner of other’s (normally male) thoughts of what I should be, how I should sound, what I should look like (hello, BRF). Why don’t you smile more? Can’t you just tell us what to do in a nice way? Why do you have such an attitude? Don’t be so crazy, I really think your hair looks better like that (yes, really). Always there is this insistence that I conform, that I mold myself, into someone else’s idea me. Being myself is by no means tolerated. Someone is guaranteed to feel threatened or angry by the very act of me talking or existing without kowtowing and asking permission to step outside of my box. Each day I walk a balance beam of mansplaining and menmotional outbursts (don’t let anyone tell you that men are not emotional) regarding my tone, or my insistence on doing the job that I am paid for the way that I see fit, or, my favorite, my attitude.
And each day, I put my head to the grind, and I keep pushing; I keep being myself despite all of the flack that it causes – only smiling when I feel like it. And at night, I put my fingers to the pen, and I harness the power of writing. I tell my story. I tell it in my words in the way that it happened to me. I don’t use soothing words to smooth ruffled feathers or ease egos and I don’t always change the names to protect the guilty. I tell it defiantly. This is my story. This is how it all went down. This is what he said, this is what I replied. This is what happened to me. I tell the unabridged, unedited, no-permission-required version of my own life’s story. And I am completely unapologetic about it.
Sometimes I look up and I catch my boss staring at me, eyes narrowed in concentration. I’m certain that he’s wondering if I am writing about him. And maybe I am.