This story was submitted anonymously to the How We Show Up collection as part of the July SEEQ sessions.
There is no moment or particular time where I can honestly say “this is me being authentic”, rather a long winding journey of finding that authenticity. When was in 10th grade my parents went through a nasty divorce and my mom left. Just so you don’t think she’s a bad lady, she needed to leave and I decided to stay because, well I was 16- I wanted to be with my friends. What I quickly learned was how much mother shielded me from my father. Who I would quickly realize was an alcoholic. This isn’t a therapy session so we’ll fast forward through the trauma and get to the part where I moved in with my mother’s parents. There, they instilled in me a strong work ethic and the idea that you “get a job and make money.” So I did just that, I went to school for dental assisting and soon became an orthodontic assistant. Yep, you got the visual right- khaki pants and logo polo, digging in kid’s mouths, the gooey impressions and the smell of sterilization products. It worked for a while, until it didn’t. I went back to community college and hopped around from job to job- always fitting into whatever would get me some cash. And again, these worked until they didn’t. Eventually I landed at VCU School of Business and I felt like, finally this was my place and these were my people. The suits, shiny loafers and pencil skirts. The strict(ish) rules and guidelines for all things marketing. I could breathe a sign of relief and settle in to who I wanted to be. I would move on to graduation and into one of the worst summers of my life. I had quit my dinky digital marketing assistant job to search for my dream job. In my mind it was the perfect plan- but again I’ll save this for my therapist. I reached out to a sweet local Market Research company just to inquire and after a series of emails I was in- for a chat. There wasn’t anything for me there at the moment but I promised to follow up. I went back home and continued my job search. Later that summer, I was making my routine follow ups and reached back out to GRRR and wouldn’t you know they wanted me to come in for an interview. I slipped on my pencil skirt, chose my “fun” resume with the little pink accent and was off to my interview. It’s funny thinking of all these things as a compilation because none of those versions of me…were me. So far from authentic. My life has been a series of survival self and experimenting self (yes, I was “emo” for a second- black& purple hair and all). In order to get by and get ahead I had to stifle my authenticity and conform to my environment. The khakis, the pencil skirt, the jobs were all a cry for my authentic self. NOW, I have a job at GRRR and I feel so lucky. I get to take “me” for a spin. From clothes to job roles to writing styles to living spaces. My authentic self has been a series of trial and errors. A journey that is still happening. A roller coaster of outfits, emotions and lots of faking it.