Life Lessons – Manning Up

One of the directors just left our campus for another job. Never really got to know her, just had a few conversations. If not for my insane work schedule, I would have attempted to get to know her more. As it is, we had a few early morning conversations. She always arrived early, so I would stop by and say hello while keeping in mind that the early part of the day was probably her best time to work before everyone arrived.

Notice of her departure reminded me of one of our first conversations when I had only been on the job and in the country for a few weeks. She told me that she had an open door and if I ever needed to talk to someone to feel free to stop by. At that point in time, I was a basket case and didn’t know where I was, what I was doing or why. I was frazzled, scared, tired, angry, and exhausted with trying to learn everything about life and work in the UAE while also developing curriculum on the fly. Apparently, she saw this in my face and offered a shoulder. I was close to unloading all my woes on her, but I come from the world where “real women” don’t cry. We buck up. Keep a straight face and pretend everything is alright even when it’s not.

I came from the technology world that was dominated by men, and believed the worst thing a woman could do on the job was cry. Crying showed weakness and humans are very good at exploiting weakness in other humans. It’s like animals smelling blood and preparing for the attack. So, I didn’t cry on her shoulder. I bucked up and put a smile on my face. I got through it, and in the process, I learned another life lesson. I learned that the guys probably got it right. Crying doesn’t help, and that “manning up” gets you over the hurdles and to the finish line. But… it felt good just knowing that her shoulder was available.

Til next time

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