They Say, “Boys Will Be Boys”

I began my first full time job in banking right after college. I was 21. It wasn’t my dream job, but I was good at it and I enjoyed it. I struggled with fitting in, especially because I was so young compared to my co-workers. I kept to myself a lot because to be frank, it was a sad period of my life. I tried to accept the culture as is. That include accepting Jimmy. Jimmy was almost twice my age and came from the auto industry. He had dog eat dog business practices which were very new to me. His character was comprised of car dealership sense of humor and entitlement. He often made sexual comments, in group settings and behind closed doors. On many occasions his comments were directed toward me and it made me uncomfortable every time he would mention my lips or my size. However, he had been with the company much longer than I had so I didn’t want to cause any trouble, I just wanted to keep my job, so I didn’t say anything. Eventually, Jimmy left. The work environment improved and I went on with my career with the firm. A few months later, I was sitting in my boss’ office and he mentioned improving the work environment. I casually made a remark about Jimmy’s impact on the environment. He was shocked. Even though Jimmy made these comments and advances directed to multiple people and even though multiple people witnessed his actions, no one informed our boss. My boss asked me why I never said anything. I told him, I was new and I didn’t want to lose my job. He looked me in my eye and told me to ALWAYS speak up. At that moment, I felt disappointed in myself. I knew better. I knew to say something, but I let someone who was in the wrong silence my voice. I vowed to never accept sexual harassment again.

I think as women, especially working and interacting in male dominated fields, we accept comments and behaviors that make us uncomfortable as “part of the job.” We don’t want to be the “girl in the room” that silences the usual conversations. We want to be invited to the golf course and to join in on cigars. So we put on our big girl pants and check our emotions at the door. Never realizing that we are not only doing a disservice to ourselves but also a disservice to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, and every other female that finds inspiration in us. Being silent helps no one. It prevents growth and advancement because the environment more than likely will not change and if it happens to change there is nothing preventing it to revert back. If we don’t speak up, our male counterparts are not encouraged to do so either. Also, it adds more stress on women in the work place. It is okay to shake the table, especially if it helps to make a better tomorrow. DO NOT be silent.

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Got Faith?

 

No disrespect to those who have bravely served our country and protected us. Thank you for your service!

Becoming Self Centered

“I am going to need your help”

What an honor and a curse.

The Honor: Someone trusts you, your knowledge, and your ability to assist them in achieving their dreams.

The Curse: Many times this request comes from multiple people who expect you to accept their request.

The Dilemma: You have your own goals and aspirations that you need to spend your time on. You may be able to help a person or two head in the right direction, but you do not really have the time to give without sacrificing something that is of value to you.

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This is a battle I am constantly faced with. What makes it even more difficult for me is that I am passionate about helping others, so I agree more often than I decline. Of course as a result, I have several of my personal projects that are neglected. It literally took me 4 years to take Women Exceeding from an idea that was pressing on my heart to an actual established company. Not because that’s how long it took the paperwork, but because I was helping my boyfriend at the time with his small companies and projects. I was also helping friends with their small projects. I was on boards I was not passionate about. I was spending my time in a way that was not profitable for me. A few things about giving other people all of you: 1. They never return the favor (Sure they will say, let me know if you need anything, but very few actually mean that. Try to cash one of those in to test my theory.) 2. They easily forget all the hard work and time you put in helping to build their “baby” (This is just human nature, you feel you did more, they feel you did less. “You wasn’t with me shooting in the gym” But you may have been passing them the balls, developing defensive plays, and studying the competition so they could make the shot)

Now, I am not saying do not help people. As I stated before, helping others is my passion. What I am saying is be strategic with your time and the time that you donate to others. (Yes, your time is a donation) Make sure you schedule (and stick to) time for your own projects. Also decide how much time you can afford to donate to others. You may think of this as how many people can you commit to help for a period of time or how many hours a week you have to give. (Your strategy is up to you) For me, this time to help others is outside of my other obligations, including volunteering in the community. I am active in my church, a member of two service organizations outside of Women Exceeding, I have a full time job that sometimes can be 24/7 and not 9 to 5, and I have a very demanding family. In addition, I have other projects that are literally sitting on my desk waiting for me to bring them to life. (I love every aspect of my very busy life.)  Every week, I have someone asking me to help them with various tasks such as developing a website or marketing, helping develop a newsletter, going over interview questions, finding speakers for an event, credit and financial planning, even “getting my life together,” and the list goes on. These are requests that I struggle with. First of all, I am overwhelmed because I do not consider myself remotely an expert on any of the requests mentioned (which are all actual requests I have received) and I can assure you I can use assistance with every request I receive for myself.

IMG_3640My first approach was to commit myself to two individuals and help out others when I can. My first was a young lady who I assisted through her college application process and beyond. She has earned her Bachelor’s Degree and even though she does not need me to hold her hand, she still contacts me periodically for random advice and requests. With her demand being low, I have picked up another young lady who is at the same place that my first mentee was when I began helping her. I am confident in my roles with these young ladies, because what they are facing I have lived through. I know what I am doing and what they should do. The only challenges are if they are receptive to my advice and will actually follow it.

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I had a mentor as an undergrad at the University of Illinois,  Dr. Paul Magelli (He and I remain close). After a meeting (one of many) he and I had regarding my future, I thanked him for assisting me with some difficulties I faced my senior year. He told me “the way you can thank me is to be me for another young person.” I think I may have been 20 years old when he told me that, but it stuck with me, and that is exactly what I tell my girls.

What about the other requests I receive? I still struggle. In fact, what inspired me to write this post was a text message I received moments before I started typing. One thing that I have started doing, is if someone asks me something that I do not know, I tell them I do not know. Sounds simple, right? Nah! Not for me, I like to be investigator gadget and find all the answers. It’s great to be knowledgeable, but remember we are being strategic with our time. If the answer will benefit you, then by all means Curious George, go for it. BUT if it will not, just be frank and say “I don’t know.” This will encourage that person to be independent and find the answer themselves. (I will write about being people’s crutch in another post…that I AM an expert in)

As you find your different tactics and tools to being strategic with your time, please share in the comments below! Or email me Christina@ChristinaDCornelius.com

Crown

Numb.

I use to be a very emotional person. I expressed everything I felt. I cried a lot. I mingled with my feelings. As life’s experiences grew more complex, my relationship with my emotions grew more distant. I cant say that I don’t feel, but my way of coping is to keep it moving and not deal with the issues. I know, it doesn’t sound healthy. I can’t say that it is healthy. I am able to cry, just not in response to my personal feelings. I can cry for my loved ones struggle. I can cry at Grey’s Anatomy. (and other emotional entertainment, but MOSTLY Grey’s lol) but I cannot cry from my own hurt, disappointment, or frustration.

I explored this revelation when my mother came in my room an emotional mess (which is more common than not with her) about my grandmother’s mental condition. My grandmother is 89 years old and up to this point has been as sharp as a tack with a very sassy and direct personality. Recently, she has been having hallucinations. It has become difficult for her to decipher what is reality and imaginary. It breaks my mother’s heart, mine too. I just can’t express it. I also cannot help my mom work through her emotions (probably because I haven’t worked out mine). I am grateful for the 87+ good years my grandmother has had. To be celebrating her 90th birthday this year is a blessing. My mom sometimes sees other elderly people who can get around well and gets sad saying she wish that my grandmother could do so as well. I have to remind her that my grandmother lived on her own for years and that she is old. (cruel but honest). I often come off cold to her because I cannot effectively relieve her emotional storms. She doesn’t understand that I cannot relieve my own emotional storms.

When I was a little girl I never understood how someone could cut themselves. I didn’t understand the point. It is not something, even to this day I am capable of doing but I sometimes pinch myself to be able to feel. I think I maybe afraid to feel, afraid to love, afraid to be vulnerable. To allow myself to do any of those things, I will have to deal with the stuff I have kept bottled up for the past few years. I can’t work through my dad’s diagnosis, my Uncle Larry’s death (which is still unreal to me), and the other painful events that have transpired in my life. My way of analyzing: I do not have the time to spare for a breakdown and if I do break, who would help put me back together again. I isolate myself (others isolate me as well). I don’t care to talk about how I feel and why I feel that way, I just keep moving and hope that things will get better with time. “You are so strong”….I have no other choice, so I numb myself.

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Mortal Woman.

Isolated. Secluded. No one to whom I may share my thoughts. No one to whom I may share my pain. No one. Just me. Carrying the pressure placed on me by those who I love. Not intentionally. But because I am the one with the strength. What is strength? I believe it is powered by faith and favor. God has given me an unexplainable amount of strength every since I was a young girl. This strength has carried me through each phase of my life. This strength has prepared me to face what life presents me. This strength allows me to look at my ill father in the face, a face that grows less and less familiar by the day, and not shed a tear. He has been doing well and then in a moment’s time, he is not well. Mentally, he is struggling. I see it, he knows it, but it is not something that he cares to admit. His mental health has a direct impact on his physical health. My solution: Keep him healthy mentally. Maybe the biggest challenge of them all. He is so authoritative, arrogant, and stubborn. I want to protect him, from himself, but I am only human. I am only a woman. There is only so much that my small frame and exhausted mind can bear. I thank God for the positive moments that we share. I thank God for the moments of peace because they allow me to regain the strength that is necessary in low moments similar to the current state. The strength that is necessary to carry the pain and fear of my family.  My question is Lord, while I am taking care of everyone else, where is your gift to me (male or female) on Earth to take care of me. I am worn Lord. Please keeping doing as you always have, giving me strength in the darkest places.

Time.

Can you imagine knowing the exact moment that would be your last on earth in advance? When we face deadly diagnosis we often ask “how much time do I have?” The truth of the matter is the answer we are given causes more anxiety than peace. We all know that we will die one day, but most people generally do not wake up thinking, “Will today be the day that I die or will it be tomorrow?” Having a numeric time stamp placed on your life, puts a dark cloud over everyday. As much as you attempt to live your limited days to the fullest, in the back of your mind is that clock that is running out time. That is no way to live. Even with world-class training, doctors are only human and can be wrong. And they often are. They did not create life, therefore their estimation on when life will end is not definite. We all know the clichés “Live life to the fullest”, “Spend everyday as if it were your last”, “Carpe Diem”, blah, blah, blah… Lets be real, while we would like to believe that we are all extreme optimists, many of us spend most days looking forward to sleep. We carry around baggage, resentment, and frustration from day-to-day. Many of us are not making every moment count. I am not going to say change who you are and become happy-go-lucky, but I will share what my Daddy has told me time and time again and what I find myself often repeating: “Time is your most valuable asset, because it’s the only thing you can never get back.” That has become more real than ever at this moment in my life. No one knows how much time we have, not the infant who was born this very moment and not the hospice patient who has been given a few days. We all will have frustration and disappointment. Take a moment, acknowledge your feelings, and realize there are so many other things in life that are a million times more important. Spend your time in a way that is satisfying for you and that you will have peace with when the time comes for you to take your last breath.

 

-Chris

Control.

Not having control. That’s the hardest part. Seeing something break your heart and slow motion and the only thing that you can do is watch is so hard. I have always had trouble with needing control. I feel like I need to fix things: people, situations, anything that requires improvement. It has only brought me anxiety and disappointment, yet I continue to try to help improve. That anxiety is nothing compared to what I have been feeling as of lately. Some moments my heart beats so rapid and hard, it seems that it could literally jump out of my chest. I get lost in my thoughts. I’m walking around in a cloud. Riding as a passenger on my father’s roller coaster of emotion. There are so many highs and lows, that literally change within moments. What can I do, I cannot allow him to ride alone. So I go through the highs and lows with him, praying for more time. My friends always tell me how “strong” I am…especially now. I never looked at it like that, I just do what I have to do. I just keep going, because if I fall, when I decide to get back up, I’ll be in the same place. “You’re the strongest person I know Christina!”  Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Who do I have to share my weak moments with? Certainly not my dad, whatever I am feeling he is feeling times 1000. Not my mother or step-mother, they are both so emotional and it would probably only bring me more stress. My friends are all moving forward and I can’t hold them back with me. Im stuck here. In this situation. With this diagnosis. In continuous pain. And I have no control.