Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Letter to My Younger Self

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Here's a Draft:

Dear Younger Sarah,

Let's time-travel, so that I can let you speak from your perspective, and then I'll return and try to be helpful from my older perspective:

When I realized at age 11, that I was physically attracted to my female best friend, I was crestfallen. This wrecks everything, I thought. After all, she and I were long-time classmates at a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school, where by First Grade, we learned that we were expected to marry a Jewish man, have Jewish children and keep a kosher home.

My early training was powerful because even though my family still loved and accepted me when I told them a decade later about my lesbianism, it was not till age 36 that I got over my internalized homophobia at the prospect of our child, having two mothers. Finally, I came to hope that two loving parents of any gender-combination would be fine, and then tried to become pregnant by IUI through an anonymous donor. I tried nine times over the next year and a half, to no avail. Neither technologically-trickier options nor adoption appealed to my partner and me, and so I concluded that God had other plans.

Now, I'll continue the letter from my 44-year-old vantage point.

God did have other plans for you, beyond any adventures your 11-year-old mind could have imagined, including:

  • A smart, beautiful, kind, funny Jewish woman with whom to spend your life, so far, for nearly 19 years
  • Helping conceive of, and start up, an IBM business development team, serving the GLBT B2B market, including substantial attributable revenue and great press in "Business Week"
  • Pursuing a Master's part-time at Columbia University's Teachers College (TC) and serving on a QueerTC panel about being openly lesbian at IBM
  • Six months in India on assignment, with your partner, accompanying you, and introducing local colleagues to her as your partner
  • Designing and facilitating cultural intelligence learning programs in Second Life, inspired by your own attempts at cultural adaptability while in India
  • IBM's:
    • Diversity and Multicultural learning offerings stewardship
    • Center for Advanced Learning, to champion social and informal learning across IBM, which is dedicated to connecting IBMers to learn from one another
  • Successful GLBT diversity network group launch-encouragement at IBM in India and China
  • Happily co-parenting two, adopted, tabby sister-cats; they seem fine, having two mothers
  • Joining the world's largest GLBT synagogue, and writing and delivering a series of layperson's sermons.

I hope this list encourages you to believe that God gives you wonderful surprises.


Older Sarah

P.S. My partner is making me write this part: I worried about social belonging when I became aware of my lesbian identity, but through my involvement in the GLBT arena at IBM, including being featured in national, GLBT-specific print-ad campaigns for IBM, I've had just the opposite experience. In fact, I've been told by a number of colleagues and even people beyond IBM that I've served as an inspiration and role model, since I took the risk of being who I am ultra-visibly.


Ruchi said...

Sarah..we love you at IBM. esp in a office environment, where people hide their real self behind masks , it takes courage to be real and open and transparent.
Admire your courage and honesty.

Stay well , Stay happy.


Sarah Siegel said...

Ruchi, you made my day with your kind comment. Turns out this is now part of a collection of 20 letters from around the world, published on our IBM intranet in honor of GLBT Pride Month. Let me know if you want the internal link to them.

rucsb said...

You made my day too. Sure, put me on the mailing list and do share link .

Cheers, glad to know your weekend was fun !


Sarah Siegel said...

Ruchi, will do!

Rhiana said...

Great stuff Sarah!!! God has a plan for everyone and you should be proud of yourself.

Sarah Siegel said...

Rhiana, thanks for your kind feedback. And I'm looking forward to the next recipe you post on your blog -- even if my appreciation is mostly vicarious; Pat's the cook in our family....I need to give her your blog's URL!