Taking a Left with Rebecca-Chapter 2
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disclaimer: this newsletter was written with one hand (okay, okay, seven fingers)
Do you have a keyboard in front of you? Put your left hand behind your back. Use your right hand and type "hi Rebecca." It's not easy to type with one hand! I avoided taking typing in high school - ohhhh, the thought of it! I used to hide out in my college dorm room so I could 'hunt and peck' out my term papers in private instead of at the computer lab. Then, when the "real world" came rushing in and with it a whole bunch of obstacles … it included typing.
climbing the career ladder one finger at a time
After college, I took a job working as an assistant in a non-profit office in DC. My main duties involved typing and filing which I executed with my now perfected method of keeping my sleeves over my hands. My manager wasn't aware of my hand and was not shy about expressing often that I was too slow at typing. These voiced slights continued until I finally couldn't take it anymore. I whipped out my left hand from my sleeve ... which proceeded to mortify both of us.
I continued to conceal my hand at work. I avoided talking at meetings so people wouldn't look at me. I passed on giving presentations in front of groups. And those "all in" membership mailing projects with the team that consisted of collating, labeling and stamping at record speed? Ouch. But as my career grew, I realized my anxiety over it was holding me back professionally. I had reached a point where I was getting tired of hiding ... and all the fretfulness that came with it. In my early 20's, I moved on to a role in marketing at an environmental services company in San Diego. At last, was this the safe work space and trustworthy colleagues I needed in order to be myself?
I was lucky to build amazing relationships with everyone I worked with at my new place of employment. From the "healthy lunch program" I started for the sales reps who only ate from the food truck that came around at lunch time, to dog sitting for coworkers when I could, I felt like I was being more me, despite ... not being the real me.
This continued to bother me on a daily basis. Not only did I feel like a fraud with my new colleagues and friends, I was continuing to delay my own career growth by hiding and not taking advantage of opportunities to share my skills.
I can pinpoint the day that I started to make a change. I was tasked with creating a presentation about the status of our marketing efforts to present to the sales team. This was all my fears of public speaking coming to a head since none of my colleagues were aware of my hand and there were going to be at least 40 people in the room. I decided to preface my presentation about how well we know our colleagues and how this influences working together as a team.
I started by telling my story. With very energetic butterflies in my stomach, this was the first time I had shared my story so openly in front of so many people. For this momentous occasion, I decided to use some dramatic flare for the big reveal of my hand.
I dramatically threw across the room my....
Yes, I did have several layers on! This was the first time I exposed my hand for all the world to see. It was on my terms and told in my own way. My colleagues had no idea about my hand but it didn't for one second change their perception of me. I was reminded that I didn’t need the affirmation of others to feel better about myself. And I NAILED that presentation by the way!
The day after that pivotal moment, I came into the office to find "hang ten" signs everywhere – on my chair, on my car, and even on my lunch! The "hang ten" was a gesture of friendly intent, and I felt the embrace of my colleagues fully accepting all of me. It meant the world to me that my colleagues cared so much and that they supported me. Although I still like to say "hang seven" instead of "ten"!
The Taking a Left with Rebecca e-newsletter series tells the story of half full founder Rebecca Twitchell’s trials and triumphs of living with only two fully developed fingers on her left hand. Stay tuned as her tale unfolds over the coming weeks.
Contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to improve your personal and professional development with Rebecca? Consider attending the Women’s Forward presented by half full happening October 25-27 in Salisbury, Massachusetts. This exclusive experience includes personal development workshops plus one-on-one coaching by Rebecca and the half full team.
Learn more here.