Did you ever find a quote that sticks with you and you can’t stop thinking about it?
“Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.”
- Nikita Gill
As I ponder the quote, more so I ponder why it speaks to me so loudly. One of my career struggles has been balancing finding my voice with managing others’ opinions of an out-spoken woman. I can imagine many others have struggled with this exact issue.
When I started my career in the AV industry, I was in my early 20’s. It quickly became obvious that this was a male-dominated industry with ceilings for women to shatter. Not to say I was not welcomed – quite the opposite, in fact, but, as with most industries, there is a struggle being the minority. Being in this environment was somewhat intimidating to me; I struggled to find a voice. In fact, I came very close to leaving when my boss told me I was being too meek and it was time for me to take charge. Instead of letting this get me down, I took the statement as a challenge and rose to the occasion. It was as if he had given me permission to take my place in the industry and I was ready for it.
Speaking up, ensuring things were getting done at the office, made my life easier. Suddenly tradeshows were running smoother and people were paying attention when I spoke up. Not a shock to anyone but me. You have to give yourself permission to take charge – I didn’t give myself that until someone told me I could. Whatever it took, it made a big change in my life.
After some smooth sailing years, I was told I needed to “ask” people to do tasks instead of telling them. It was a shot to my heart; for those who know me, I am always polite – please and thank you accompany all requests. So why did these comments bother me so much? Because I am very sure this same criticism would not have been said to a man. Why did I need to ask people instead of direct them?
That is the first time it occurred to me that a strong woman can be viewed as a threat. Here I was, working hard, ensuring projects were completed but I was being chastised for not saying “will you please do xxx” instead of “please do xxx”. I thought about this a lot – not only because it went on my official review but because I concluded this criticism did not have merit. I was doing my job and doing it well. It was not the time for me to regress and ask permission to get my job done; that’s not an efficient way for anyone to work. I had taken a long time to find my voice and I’m not going to let it go.
So, no, I am not going to apologize for my wild. I’m going to embrace it. I hope you’ll join me.
Megan A. Dutta