I graduated from law school in 2004. I had no interest in practicing law, so I moved to Japan and taught English there instead. Though I was supposedly the teacher, I learned a lot and had a blast.
I moved back to my hometown for family reasons and took a job temping in a small HR office. Job opportunities did not abound, so I was simply glad I could pay my bills. I felt the same when I took on a temporary administrative role at a larger company before long. I sucked at it, but did my best to find silver linings, of which there were many.
As my temporary admin gig neared its conclusion, a woman I’d met exactly once offered to take me onto her team as an admin. I sent her a copy of my resume; once she saw I’d gone to law school, she became determined to get me negotiating software contracts on her team. I rejected at first, saying I’d have taken the Bar if I wanted to do anything law-related.
She persisted, thank God. I soon began negotiating contracts, and felt (happily) challenged for the first time in years. I loved learning about hardware and software, which I had to do to be effective at negotiating. I enjoyed negotiating and was grateful to have an encouraging, supportive manager nudging me outside my comfort zone.
I worked on software contracts for a decade. Then, two years ago tomorrow, I began working as a software licensing contractor. My commute to a full-time job with great benefits was just too long. I accepted job uncertainty as a small cost compared to the benefit of not spending four hours in my car daily.
My first few months as a contractor were deeply uncomfortable. There was a lot of ambiguity, which frustrated me until I took it upon myself to lessen the ambiguity. If anyone didn’t like how I was doing that, I figured, they’d be sure to tell me.
Taking risks, I found myself growing. I found joy in that growing, though I’d started out discombobulated.
As that contract wound down, an opening came up for a software asset management position. I seized the opportunity. Sure, I’d never done it before and didn’t know a thing about helping ensure neither too many nor too few licenses were procured, but I knew I’d grow. I knew that any frustration I felt at being a noob the first few months would be counterbalanced by the ultimate joy of learning.
I “knew,” but I didn’t really know. ‘Cause, see, I had no idea how much I’d learn, nor how much I’d be encouraged to learn. I couldn’t have fathomed how much support I’d have, nor how mistakes would be treated as just a part of the journey of learning. I had no idea what it’d be like to feel genuine psychological safety for the first time in my life, among a team that makes me laugh while pushing me to do better every day.
I took a risk two years ago tomorrow, and another one fifteen months ago. Because of those risks, my whole life feels so much richer than it did two years ago. For how rough my life began, it’s pretty rad now.
This is all a necessary background for another story to come. For now, though, I want to say that I am more fortunate than I sometimes remember.
I’m thankful to be challenged to remember this.
Yesterday morning, my seven-year-old son heard my husband, Anthony, and I talking about election results.
“What happened?” asked Li’l D.
“Trump won the presidency,” we explained to him.
He looked stricken.
“Oh, sweetie,” I said. “I know you’ve heard a lot of terrible things at school. But, you know what? Lots of people you love voted for Trump.”
Anthony and I listed these people, and emphasized how much they love him and are committed to protecting him and keeping him safe.
Many people are afraid right now.
Some of that fear is very reasonable, particularly for minorities. Some Trump supporters hold bigoted beliefs, and some portion of those feel enabled by Trump’s victory.
But some of that fear was carefully cultivated by the DNC, which very intentionally elevated Trump’s candidacy–and fear about his supporters–starting early 2015 to improve Clinton’s chances of victory.
On both sides, fear has been used to divide and conquer us.
I wrote this morning about why I would have voted for Trump were there only two choices. I hope you’ll read the post and consider the possibility that some of what you’ve learned has been wrong.
(I’ve spent the last six months doing this, and it’s been painful to understand how my ignorance has helped hurt people. You’ve seen some of that in anger that’s sometimes bled through here, less at anyone else and more at myself that it took me so very, very long to see.)
Please don’t categorize people as “self” and “other” right now. Resist the urge, as I must personally be vigilant about doing right now.
Please, please listen to each other, hear each other, stand up for each other–even if your voice or knees shake–and fight against the fear machine.
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.
Take that love and let it shine, because that love translated to action is quite literally what it’ll take to save this world for our children.
One of my landlords came by
Thursday evening to explain
they need to remove the tree
in front of our garage;
the tree’s roots
my six-year-old son later,
I explained what would
He got really quiet
and clouds gathered
on his face