I have a hard time staying quiet about the things I believe in
I’m downright awful at it. I often think I am on a hidden camera show, like the 20/20 one with social experiements. I cannot just walk by, the things people walk-by. It’s a blessing…and oh yes, it’s a curse. Sometimes I go to far.
I have strong beliefs.
The things I believe in the most are kindness and courage.
I dont think there’s a single person in my life that would disagree. I speak up.
What I am working on, is my timing and delivery. Sometimes, the truth is not as urgent as the way it comes flying out of me, would suggest. Sometimes.
This week, I’m in a small town in New Hampshire training for my new job, as a medical device account manager. I knew it would be intense, and I knew it would have its challenges. I knew I would spend long days in clinical information, and application. I knew I would be learning a lot for the first time.
All that has happened.
I knew also, that with this role, I’m in a ‘boys’ club for lack of better words. Device has that reputation. Going into operating rooms, holding your own. Getting knocked down. Not a problem, I love a challenge.
I’m in a room right now with all guys. Me. 2 other guys training. 1 field trainer. And 1 head trainer. Dynamically, I knew it was going to feel different. It wasn’t lululemon anymore.
So, now before I go on, I’ll say this. My experience is unique, I do believe it’s not like this always, I do believe there are kind, wonderful, confident men and women that are in this field.
Training kicked off Monday, late morning. I arrived Sunday at about 10pm, planes trains and automobiles later. There’s no simple way to get to middle of New Hampshire. I woke up, got outside, grabbed a cup of coffee and started to walk. I felt a heavy heavy heaviness on my heart.
Heavy in regret, in anticipation, in sadness, in what was and was not.
I made 2 phone calls with people I love dearly who work for lululemon, 2 of my bests.
I cried a little.
I stood in the rain.
I laughed a lot.
I stood in the rain.
They said, I love you. I said it back.
They said, I support you. and I said, say it again, would you.
Because (and thank god for this) I have learned to ask for more support when I need it.
The heaviness rose and fell as I worked through what I needed to say out loud, ‘what if I fail at this too’ the past few years have been marked by my greatest triumphs, but also my greatest failures. There has been nothing steady about the past 4 years.
What if I fail at this too….plays in the background of almost everything I do.
Day 1, is a good day, agendas are laid out, the momentum is set. The head trainer? Oh man, salt of the earth kinda guy, my kinda guy. The two other guys. Solid. One of them reminds me of my friend from home. Smart, kind.
Day 2. Field trainer arrives. New to the trainer role. Fairly new to the role itself. Offers great experience. Has got a lot of great things to say.
But I cant hear him.
Not very well.
I cant hear him, because as the day goes on, what I hear more than anything are his snide comments, his flippant responses in regards to nurses, I’m getting from him that unless you are this guy, or you are a surgeon…you are either a moron, an idiot, or a dumb moron idiot. ‘you cant fix stupid’ are his words of wisdom. Oh an there’s impersonations, and every nurse is apparently fresh off the Appalachian trail, barely made it out of 2nd grade. And the 2-guys, perfectly nice the day before, showing me pictures of their kids and the wives they love. They laugh. They laugh loud and forced.
And I say nothing. I don’t know if it’s worth it yet.
We learn a lot, the day moves quickly, comments pile up. The head trainer doesn’t seem as aware as me of what’s happening, because he doesn’t hear the comments like I do. He hears the clinical information moving forward. He sees us learning.
I speak in terms of patient care, I’ll be working with oncology patients, this matters to me deeply, and a huge reason why I fought for this role.
This guy. Says very little about patient care. Says he loves money.
I get it, money is great.
But not at the sake of treating people poorly. Not ever.
The day ends. I go for a run. I strike up a conversation with an 8-year old girl grocery shopping with her mom. She sees me perusing the wine selection, she holds my arm, and I look down. She smiles at me and says this….’hey lady, live a little’ I crack up laughing. I said ‘you know what, you’re right’ and hoist a bottle off the shelf. Me and Sadie we then have a conversation, about her day in the 3rd grade, about her bracelet her sister gave her ‘just cause’ about what she wants to be when she grows up (a vet) we end with a high five. She makes me promise I would live a little. Looks me in the eye again, and smiles with a missing front tooth.
About 5 minutes later, I was sitting in the middle of my king sized bed, eating a cheeseburger, drinking wine out of a paper cup.
After all, I made a promise.
I remembered in this moment that connection is everything, that a conversation changes a day, and that nothing beats a king sized bed to yourself…sometimes.
Day 2. Today.
Head trainer is going to be late today. It’s just me and the 3-guys. And I literally had to sit on my hands (cause when I get REAL expressive, which is pretty much always) I talk with my hands, like truly could knock someone out.
The comments begin. (again, all being generated from the one guy, but totally hilarious by the accounts of the other guys slapping each other on the back).
A moron comment drops. About a hypothetical nurse.
I’ve had enough.
I took 10-deep breaths. I made a choice at breathe one, that if I still felt like I needed to say something after 10 breaths, I would.
10 breaths go by. Something hilarious is happening involving idiots, or dummies, I have no idea, I’ve blacked out at this point.
I clear my throat.
I have a request, I announce, totally calm and collected.
They look over at me.
That we stop referring to nurses and everyone who’s not the surgeon as morons and idiots, and that overall, there’s a big change in the level of respect we speak about the people and environments that without which, WE WOULD NOT HAVE JOBS.
I said the last part like that, cause I started to get emotional.
He matches me back with ‘are you kidding me right now’
But it’s more so ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW’ cause he matches me where I left off.
And I look him in the eye, and I say I am dead serious.
I say to him, he would never, ever speak about these people if they were in the room. And that these morons and idiots…they’re the front line. They’re keeping patients alive.
He rolls his eyes.
To which I comment. I see that you’re rolling your eyes at me.
At this point. I’m done.
He gives me the ‘I cant even hand’ truly. He does. Like it’s 1997. The ‘don’t even’ hand. The ‘oh no you didn’t’ hand.
The head trainer at this point stands up out of his chair, puts his hands up like a crossing guard, and says woah woah, okay, lets stop here.
An extremely awkward heavy silence rolls into the room.
The head trainer asks me, with true concern, he looks at me and he says, are you okay to move on.
I pick up my pen, and notebook, and say, ‘oh yes, I’m just fine.’
I’m aware in this moment that I cant undo this. As my friend would say, ‘you cant un-ring that bell’ and I’m aware that what I’ve done, is I’ve played the part of the sensitive girl, in a corporate male-dominated environment. That I’ve gone off to save the world, to bust out the first note of kumbaya, to stick up for the underdog. I get now that everyone will look at me differently, that they may tip toe around me, I get that my lunch table will be a table for one, I get that they will say things about me. I know.
(I want to be very clear that I do believe my experience was an exception, I do believe and know that the majority of my people doing my job, they’re great people. I know my new boss is one of the most outstanding human beings I have ever met. So again, an exception here).
I am not new to speaking up.
And I sit there, and I fight back tears. And I think back to the legion of strong women I left, and confident, kind, sensitive men that make up my former company….and I want to cry, cause I miss them, and I miss what I had, and I miss her…who I got to be when I was there. And I feel the heaviness come back onto my chest. And I am afraid that I’ve failed.
And I breathe.
And I don’t know anything that is said in the next 5-minutes, because I am focusing on not crying.
We take a break about 10 minutes later, and I cry. I cry far away from where anyone can see me. And no comforts are offered.
I cry cause ‘I’ve failed’ and cause I want to go home. And I want life to be easier than it is. And I want someone to speak up, so I don’t have to.
And then I realize, I don’t want any of that.
And no, I haven’t failed.
And no, life isn’t easy.
And failing would actually be…saying nothing.
I reach out to my people, they say all the right things, I remember my courage.
And I remember, this is who I am.
Corporate America, yoga studio, grocery store, dinner table, wherever.
I am her, because of a lifetime of ‘staying quiet’ of watching what silence did to my mom…how it tugged at her, and held her down, and surfaced in moments of rage, of which I would watch, and I would feel.
Of which I first learned failure. Both of it, and that I am it. I am a failure, is what I grew up learning.
I could not take her pain from her, as much as I tried…but I learned to listen to people, and I learned to care, I learned to ask questions, and I learned to hold space. I learned it to survive, and what I didn’t know then is how survival would unfold beautifully.
I am not quiet for all of the women who are.
Women close to me, who’s secrets scare them into thinking no one could ever love them. Who’s true desire would mean, life could fall apart, not believing that falling apart is the one way to truly build again.
I am not quiet for all the women who have given me their full hearts, and the journal entries, both literally, and in confessions when I hold their hand, things they’ve never told anyone…cause what if someone knew.
And my question back is.
What if someone knew.
I say it right back to them. Do you see the difference? Say it to yourself again, like this.
What if someone knew?
What if someone knew.
My life, has become worth living, because people now know. And they love me in spite of, because of, and without condition.
I am not quiet for the moments of my life that have liberated me from a past that felt so permanent. For every person that has ever listened to me, held me, received me, chose me, loved me…as is. For every person that has taken me to the river, and ran cool water over my deepest shame until what was left was just me.
I am not quiet.
Because quiet is an epidemic. And it’s how and why we get sick. And it’s the reason why we are terrible to each other. It’s the reason why we live so alone, together. Silence is the reason why familes come home and go to 4-different rooms, quiet is the outcome. Silence is the reason we look down at our phones, and away from eachother, quiet. We are so very quiet.
Because we wouldn’t dare speak our truth into the space, we will simply wrap ourselves up in it like a thousand pound blanket.
I am not quiet, for her, and her, and the generations before me that were. Who did stayed quiet, not because they did not have a truth to tell, but because the world is no place for the truth. So lets leave it alone, shall we. Lets say that we are fine. Lets never ever share over candles, and standing in kitchens, and driving with the windows down…what we truly desire.
And though for today anyway, the head trainer pulled me aside and with all the compassion and kindness tells me I was brave and courageous and did the right thing.
By all accounts, I spent the rest of the afternoon invisible.
Conversations happened around me, but not to me.
I kept eye contact on absolutely everyone speaking….just to see. And this guy, he didn’t look at me once.
I was that girl that spoke up.
I was her.
I had a reading from a medium one day (cause yes, I’m that girl too) and she told me more about my history that I don’t know much of, because, again, the silence. And she said to me, that whenever I am afraid to say something, go after something, to be somebody…she said to me, and I’ll never forget it.
Lyndsey, by nature of who you are, and the generation of women that came before you, you have the history and strength of a 1000-year oak tree inside of you. When you are afraid, when you find yourself growing quiet, you call upon that strength.
She’s right. I do.
Tomorrow’s day 3. I have 1.5 days to go. I talked to my boss back in California tonight…he was nothing but supportive. I’m good here. He said to me ‘ I would never ever ask you to not stand up for what you believe in, it’s what makes you, you.’
And so. That’s all I need to know.
It’s like thunder….you have thunder inside of you.
This quote came through perfectly…I would not have made it through today alone. Thank you to those who teach me about moving through life. Onward, and forward, and full of truth.
One of my favorite Mary Oliver poems to close…wild geese.
|You do not have to be good.|
|You do not have to walk on your knees|
|for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.|
|You only have to let the soft animal of your body|
|love what it loves.|
|Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.|
|Meanwhile the world goes on.|
|Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain|
|are moving across the landscapes,|
|over the prairies and the deep trees,|
|the mountains and the rivers.|
|Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,|
|are heading home again.|
|Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,|
|the world offers itself to your imagination,|
|calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –|
|over and over announcing your place|
|in the family of things.|