There wasn't an exact date, more an approximate time. A little nudge here, some advice there, some so-called development, and here I am. No where. I'll explain what I mean by that, but first, a little context.
I've always been very open about the fact that I have clinical depression. It's nothing to be ashamed of, and I am not unstable or fragile or any other bullshit other people assume. Very simply, the chemical composition of my brain is not like others', and I have to work a little harder to find my happy place.
On and off since I was eighteen, I've taken medicine and done therapy to alter the way my brain works. Not everyone can even admit they have an issue with depression, much less go to the extents I have to learn about it -- and me. I am what's referred to as a "child of trauma." My dad died when I was two and a half years old. This would alter anyone, but modern neuroscience is just starting to find out how those like me are shaped not just mentally and emotionally, but also physically or physiologically, by those traumas. But I am no neuroscientist, nor is that the point of my story.
In addition to having a different chemical composition in my brain, I'm also what I've heard referred to as "high radar" -- someone who is exceptionally perceptive of the world and people around them. I can't really explain it, and the fact is unless you're the same way, you probably won't understand anyway. The best I can do is to say I see and sense things that aren't obvious or apparent. I listen to my gut, and I have one hell of a bullshit detector.
Back to my original thought line, I've shown a great deal of promise within my organization. I'm talented at what I do, have a wild ability to figure things out and an insatiable need to learn new things. I was doing really well when I first got to my company. I got awards and bonuses and a promotion quite quickly. I continued my good work and was asked to work with upper management on projects way above my pay grade. I was in an ideal situation for my set of strengths and needs.
As I said earlier, there's not a date I can put on this, but about three years ago, all levels of management within my company started to want to help me develop into the next generation of company leaders. I was given extra feedback and opportunities to help in this endeavor. All of which I much appreciated and took every chance I had to grow.
There are subtleties to being effective in corporate management. These subtleties have never been lost on me, but I often saw them as unnecessary. Why not just say what you mean and mean what you say? Playing politics just wasn't my strong suit. I don't use euphemisms. I don't tip toe around the subject or sugar coat things. You'll notice that above I said, "My dad died ..." Died being my point. I don't say he "passed away" or anything like that. He died. Period. Now, I have learned that it's better say my sister "could find something more flattering to wear" rather than "That dress makes your ass look big." I get the need for diplomacy, I just have to try harder at it when it comes to more subtle situations.
For instance, I recently asked at a meeting of high-level management if someone could help me understand their thinking that led to a particular plan. I thought I was being incredibly diplomatic. My tone was inquisitive, respectful and open. All but one person thought I was raising a valid and well-thought out question. The person I asked got defensive and has been an ass to me every time I've dealt with him since. I guess it's a good thing I was trying to be diplomatic since saying "this makes no fucking sense" would have probably gotten me killed on the spot. Even to have simply said, "I don't understand," would have been offensive, so I was more subtle. So much for that.
Anyway, my point is that I would not have been offended had someone said they didn't understand. It's simple direct and tells me I need to be more clear or explain more/better. I prefer this method of communication. I also don't take it personally. Just because someone doesn't get my point doesn't mean they're calling me an idiot or saying I didn't come up with a good point or that I can't communicate. I just means that person did not understand the way I presented it. We're not all on the same page all the time, and not everyone thinks the same way. That's what makes communication such an art.
I am direct. I try to always be respectful and kind, but as a former boss used to say about me, "She tells it like it is." Is that such a bad thing? If I'm being respectful and kind while being direct does it mean I'm the problem? Well, all the advice and development and supposed growth I've been going through would have me thinking, yes, I'm flawed and need improvement in this area. So much so that I've altered so much of myself that I don't know who the hell I am anymore. It ends here and now. I AM DONE.
Few people are fond of uncertainty, and for someone as logical as I am, it can become unsettling after a while. Logically, if 2+2=4, then 2+2 should always equal 4. In the past few years, I've had various people telling me 2+2 equals 5 or 6 or, hell, even 44 depending on the case, and I've tried to believe them because they are my superiors, more experienced and mostly well-respected.
The incongruity of what I've been told and tried to believe has put me off balance and subsequently put my world out of whack. I am out of sorts because I've looked at the sky in the middle of a clear day and tried to tell myself it's green when I know damn well it's blue. I have become a very unhappy person, so much so my depression has reared its ugly head and sent me into a tailspin.
To put it as plainly and simply as I can, DAMMIT, there is nothing wrong with me!!!
I refuse to believe that something is wrong with me or my communication skills because a few people get their feelings hurt or their egos bruised so easily. I will no longer hide my confidence because others are not. I will not play dumb to make other people feel better.
I am smart, and I am confident -- not because I believe myself to always be right or the smartest person in the room, but because I am not afraid to be wrong!
I will always do everything in my power to be kind, compassionate, respectful and professional. These are the right things to do, and I will make it my life-long mission to make these attributes the mantras I live by. I will try to keep an open mind and to not be stubborn. I will listen as much, if not more, than I talk.
I will also promise that there will be times when I fail at this mission. I am human and it is a condition of being so that dictates that I am not and cannot be perfect. I am going to fail, and that doesn't make me a bad person.
When I was a kid, it was a cardinal sin in my house to say you hated someone, especially if that someone was my mother or sister, and heaven help you if you let it slip. One afternoon on our way home from school, my best friend's youngest brother got really angry at his brother and screamed, "I HATE YOU!!!" with everything he had in his little heart. I immediately said, "Oh, Daniel, you don't mean that. You're just mad. You don't hate your brother." I think part of me was trying to protect him from some parental wrath I would have expected. Instead, his mother said, "No, it's OK. Right now, he is mad at his brother, and he's feeling hatred towards him. It's OK that he feels that way right now. It's human."
I was dumbfounded -- and a little confused. It was an early example of what "development" can do. Ha!
The fact is that humans have emotions, and even the most controlled of us, let them get the best of us occasionally. We can be hot-headed. (Unfortunately, some of us come by hot-headed more easily than others!) We all have limits, and though we need to push ourselves to be cool, others will push our limits. It may result in an eye roll or an exasperated sigh or on the rare occasion a "go to hell." I have those moments. If you're honest with yourself, so do you.
I freely admit when I'm coaching others that I have my moments. I'd like for the people who coach me to do the same. We all try to avoid it, and we should say sorry when it happens, but to act like someone shouldn't be human, shouldn't have times when their limits are reached, is dishonest.
I have been lied to, and it has warped my sense of self. I hid figuratively and literally. Today, I took one small step to correct this mistake. I unprotected my tweets. I'd hidden them because I was made to feel I had something to hide or at the very least censor. Those are my thoughts, for better or worse, and I might say, "I hate you!" in a heated moment, but it doesn't make me a bad person. It doesn't have to be censored. People reading it just have to take it for what it is. There are a lot of other things to read on the Web if you don't like it.
Maybe telling some of the more thin-skinned people they need to stop taking things personally isn't what they want hear, and maybe there are better ways to say it. I'd at least like to get credit for not calling them pansies and telling them to put their big-girl panties on.
So be on notice. I am direct. It is nothing personal. Take what I say for what it is. Or get over it. I'm not hiding anymore.