My Name is on the Label: (My name is courage. My name is math whiz. My name is loser. My name is fat. My name is old. My name is strength.)
Let’s start with something simple: Math. For many years, math and science were the domain of men. Girls grew up believing they were not supposed to be good at Math. They were encouraged into Language Arts, Social Science and History. And this twentieth century cultural phenomenon created a generation of women who believe they have no aptitude for Math. The most important word here is “believe.” Because, we know the truth is that women can do Math!
I was that generation. Until 11th grade, I always received good grades in math. But, I grew up with the idea that I should be good at English, History and Social Science, not that I could be an engineer or a scientist or a mathematician. On the other hand, I also grew up with a mother who worked and broke barriers for women entering the workforce. So… I also believed I could have a career; I could be successful. Ultimately, I am happy with my career path. However, I can’t help but wonder how my generation contributed to the void in STEM careers for women.
We are influenced on many different levels to wear labels that shape who we are. Like the example above, there is a cultural/societal element. There is also family. And finally, there is our genetic blueprint. All of which create the complexity of who we are and the narrative in which we live.
Some of these labels we wear proudly and boldly; others work quietly in the background. They sometimes work together harmoniously, but often they undermine each other. They feed the voices of our inner critic. And they become the affirmations that foster our positive mental energy that allow us to move out of our comfort zones. The question we have to ask is: What labels are you living with today? How are they influencing your choices and decisions?
Are they stopping you from doing or being what you want to do or be?
Are they enabling you to defy your own expectations ?
About the author: Adrienne Seal is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Dragonfly Consultants. She is an ICF professional certified coach. She is known and appreciated for her insight into human nature and team dynamics and her thoughtfulness and innovative approaches to coaching, organization effectiveness and culture transformation.