It’s the typical end of the “workday” for me. One last check of the emails to see if I have missed anything, a glance at the slack channels to make sure nothing urgent has popped up, and then review my own checklist of action items for the day. I close the laptop and take that feeling of anxiety with me as I step into the evening hours with my family knowing the questions of self-doubt and the rumblings of anxiety will keep playing in my head – Did I do everything right? Will everyone be happy with my work? Is my work the quality that it needs to be? Did I miss anything?
And then in walks my husband from day 2 at a new company. He is calm, relaxed and joking around. He has funny stories about being in meetings with new colleagues. He shares complements that he received and is genuinely ready to put the day behind him and talk about what we are eating for dinner.
How is he so calm? How is he not verbally vomiting all his anxiety about being the new guy or his abilities with a new team? Where is his emotional hangover?
It strikes me that a major difference here is the lens in which men and women view themselves in the workplace.
While part of the issue my be our personal past experiences and personality style, there is a large part of this that was passed down to me by the women in my life. Yes, grandmother passed on some pretty good recipes but she also shaped that grading system we keep in our heads. And it is not the same scale as the ones my brothers grew up with.
This is a historical issue that is rooted in the messages that I received as a young girl. I grew up hearing and reading the stories of easy successes men had in their lives. When we are told a story about a woman as an expert, it was accompanied by the brutal struggle she went through to earn such a title. So, a part of me has learned that if you want to feel confident in your work, it better be the result of blood sweat and tears.
To complete a proposal for work, and just walk away carefree after I hit send? There is not a part of my brain or soul that understand this concept. If completion of a project does not come with a triple shot of adrenaline, how can I possibly have done a good job.
So how do I changed this? How do I get my body and brain to just accept I am the only one that needs to tell me I did a good job? How do I accept that I am capable without having to have scars as proof?
I don’t have an answer.
But this is what I am committed to changing about myself and the message I pass on to other women. As Eleanor Roosevelt stated “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I am going to take this strong women’s words to heart and the new chapter starts today.