Sorry, Just Saying

via paloma81
Today I want to talk a little about Jennifer Lawrence's recent post as part of Lena Dunham's Lenny Letter project. In it, she describes her own personal experience with pay inequality, and how she blamed herself for not negotiating as much as her male costars did because she feared being seen as a "spoiled brat." She goes on to say that, now that she's thought about it, she realizes that a man would never have to worry about being described that way. You can read the whole article here.

Lawrence's post really got me thinking about my own (limited) experiences in the workforce. I have the relative luxury of being a part of a career field largely dominated by women, and yet even I feel and have felt that same urge to be passive in matters of not only my career, but in my past education and other parts of my life as well. Even though I'm really not always fine to "go-along, get-along," I act like I am. Like Lawrence, I don't want to seem difficult. I just want people to like me.

I was offered my dream job this past summer at the end of my second interview. I remember my stomach knotting up when my now-boss said to me, "You have the job on one condition."
"What is it?" I asked.
"You have to stop saying two things: 'Sorry' and 'just.'"
I didn't understand. "Sorry" and "just" were staples in my vocabulary. 
My boss went on to say that those two words are practically ingrained in the female vocabulary and that they stand between us and what men have. Saying "sorry" when you haven't done anything wrong makes you sound weak. Saying "just" when you're giving your motivation for an action - "I was just emailing to ask..." - makes you sound like you're diminishing your own worth and legitimacy. Both are toxic to success. God knows men don't say sorry, so why should we?

It's been incredibly hard to break those habits. I find myself saying "sorry" when I don't have exact change, or saying "I was just wondering if..." when asking for permission or help, but I know that I'll get over this urge to be passive in time. Sometimes it seems like my success depends on it, and I'm not going to let those two little words keep me from getting everything I've ever wanted.

Learn from my mistakes and from Jennifer Lawrence's. You can be just as confident, just as strong, and just as much a boss as any guy; you just have to own it. Don't settle and don't apologize. Don't ever stop being the strong, confident, capable person you are. 


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