Prove Yourself to Yourself
Two weeks before my due date, I made the call to start working from home until our little dude decided to make his appearance and maternity leave officially began. I had pulled some muscles by tripping off a curb so it was painful to walk around (read: I'm clumsy). Carrying my work bag into my office every morning was a struggle. I was tired, hot and too large for 95% of my clothes. So getting into the office looking presentable every morning was difficult. I made the decision because I was truthfully afraid that I would go into labor or my water would break in front of my coworkers!
After I made the decision to work from home, I honestly wrestled with some conflicting emotions. Mostly, I felt guilty for not being physically in the office. I felt like everyone viewed me as lazy or a slacker. This emotion was unfounded because my manager was supportive and encouraged me to do what was best for me and I was freaking 9 months pregnant and still working. However, after being in the corporate world for a while, I’ve learned that females have to work harder to prove that they're devoted, present and committed. So, it was hard for me to feel like I had much of a voice and influence from home. (Side note: What's unfair is that my husband works from home regularly and feels no guilt whatsoever, but I digress.)
I was not a fan of this emotion and it caused me to question what was really going on. While the whole female in the corporate world piece may play a part along with office culture, the guilty feeling was mine and mine alone. No one was making me feel guilty, I was letting myself feel guilty, but why?
After taking some time to process, I realized the I felt guilty for not being there because of FEAR. I feared that others would perceive me as weak and uncommitted. I realized that I'm super hard on myself, hold myself to extremely high standards and don't allow myself to show any signs of weakness. The last few weeks of pregnancy should be a time where I should have given myself some grace, but I did not.
If any of you are like me, we are our own worst critic. We do our best to not show weakness, we do not slow down, don't get sick and do our best to not make mistakes. Personally, this stems from being the oldest child, from disappointment that I felt from others if I was less than perfect and competitive work environments. Mistakes and weakness are failures. Failures are weak links, not valuable team members and don’t get included in projects, decisions or lunch plans.
In order to be true to myself, I have to take a deep breath and say "It's ok if you're not perfect." No one experts that and if they do, then they're not someone I should be allowing to influence my life, decisions or emotions. I have to release myself from my own unattainable standards and shift my perspective on what failure means. If we’re not failing, we’re not learning. Since I'm currently in a season of learning and discovery, I should be failing on a regular basis and celebrating those failures. If we’re not failing, we’re not truly living. Allowing ourselves to fail is true bravery.