Friday, February 13, 2015

When Did I Become a Sage?

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

Feeling Self-possessed and of Service Accordingly

At 25, I was just starting what would become a real career, was romantically insecure and much less solvent, as well as a bit lost. I was also searching, earning, dating, and pursuing a career.

Twice this week, younger lesbians wanted to talk with me about my experience -- one along with her non-lesbian classmate, so that I could be the subject of their MBA project on women in business who advance change, and one who wanted tips on how to come out at work.

When did I become qualified to talk about this stuff? Perhaps by 26 if we consider the core definition of a mentor simply as someone who has been there before you. When did I become recognized for being qualified to talk about this stuff? Now, at nearly 50, when I'm so much more self-possessed.

I was touched by both discussions. The first of the lesbian women made it clear that she liked my response during our conversation: "Think bigger." And the non-lesbian classmate posted positively about our discussion on Instagram.

It was gratifying to be quotable/referenceable. The context for the quote was her asking what I'd have done differently in helping start up the LGBT Business Development team at work, which is still going strong nearly a decade and a half since its founding; I moved on to our Learning organization 11 years ago and remain proud to have made a lasting change at work.

The second discussion included the other lesbian, young woman telling me that when we first met and I talked so openly at work about my family-life, she asked herself subconsciously, "Could that be me one day?" 

When I was their age, I wasn't pursuing an MBA, nor was I super-successful at work. Instead, I was hunting for purpose, a partner and prosperity. Back then, I don't think I'd have foreseen that I could be me one day. And yet I have managed to become me. Thank God.

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