Working Through Shame

Tia here.

As a woman working in the corporate world for the last 15 years of my life, I have learned to keep my emotions in check while in public. Although the landscape of the corporate office may slowly be on its way to mainstream acceptance with mental health surrounding the highs and lows of the daily grind, I can assure you there is still a firm "no emotions" rule at the office.

Men don't cry, so if we, as women, want to be taken seriously, we don't either.

At least, not in plain sight. Because of this, I have become a pro at tabling my emotions until I am tucked away in a bathroom stall, or blubbering in the car as I drive home, or, my personal favorite,  unleashing the anger and frustration accumulated at Orangetheory.

Learning to curb our knee-jerk reactions and emotional instability makes us functioning adults.
In a professional environment, this tends to be significantly easier when the company you walk into every day is not your own.

This company pays you a wage to walk in, play nice, make your mark, keep your head down, and walk out.

You are not emotionally tied to the the success and failure of that company.
It's just a job.

But what happens when you decide to take the reins on your own career, and dive without hesitation into the unknown of company management?

How do you successfully navigate something you have never done before?
Trial and error, my friends (and if we're being honest, which we are, it's way more error right now, and that's okay).

In four short months, I have established myself as a Principal and Co-Founder of an organization that specializes in empowerment and betterment of those navigating the emotional shit-show of infertility.

Prior to 2019 I have owned exactly zero companies. We are literally making it all up as we go. We are thriving and failing each and every day and sometimes those failure are more obvious, like the one I'm about to rip into.

Just as moms raise babies and their heart now grows outside of them and onto this precious being, we have essentially birthed a company that we deeply care about. We care about our stamp in this world and we care, a lot, about our impact in our society.

Which means we also deeply care when others speak poorly about us.

A positive approach would simply say the more haters the more popularity, right?

The more waves we make means we are reaching more people and therefore, a hell of a lot more people will love what we do. And a hell of a lot of people will not. Just like not everyone enjoys peaches even if they are the ripest, juiciest peach in existence: there will still be people out there who don't like peaches.

InfertileAF set out to navigate emotions fueled by hormonal medication and societal norms. Our motivation aims to get our community thinking and speaking openly about many diverse topics that you typically wouldn't bring to the dinner table, and yet, we are poking the bear on social media each and every day.

These conversations are not black and white. There is much work to be done to gracefully approach all the layers of gray with these taboo topics, and a lot of times we aim to simply agree to disagree, but do so with respect.

Unfortunately, until these topics become more mainstream through our efforts in the community, we assume the role that many responses may be cut-throat, black and white, end-all-be-all, based on prior deep-rooted beliefs, regional diversity and individual upbringing.

Sometimes company owners fail to extend grace to harsh opinions.

I have walked with the emotions of shame over the past 24 hours as I am not thrilled with how I reacted to a negative opinion. Instead of practicing what we preach, I puffed up and demanded a public debate over an opinion. An opinion that neither party would "win" as both sides had strong beliefs in the opposite direction.

I allowed one person and their opinion, a stranger at that, to trigger me in a way that brought on the 'mama bear' protective side of me. The one that would fight to the death to protect what she holds dear in her life.

How dare they speak poorly of my company and my territory?
Who do they think they are? (please roll your eyes with me, it's okay, I'm doing it too)

I gave my power away to a person on the internet. I played into the shame stories we sometimes get far too wrapped into.

Having written that out makes it glaringly obvious how silly this is, but boy did I have some work to do on myself to get to this point today.

So, I started some thought downloads. Every thought and emotion, no matter how exacerbated, over-the-top, negative or petty, needed to come out into the world if I was going to work through the knotted, tight-chest feeling.

I am human and I made a mistake. I also know I am strong and resilient and worthy of forgiveness.

Instead of allowing the circle of shame to take over my life, instead, I let that tight-chest feeling to just be.

And it sucked. It's not fun feeling those feelings, but I believe it's worse to ignore them.

After a quiet night of reflection and internal debate, I resolved that tomorrow - today - was another day and would make peace with my shame by speaking openly about it.

I want you to know that no matter how much progress you make, healing is never linear, and sometimes it may feel as though you are lost, that you work doesn't matter.

But that is a lie.

It's a lie our brains tell us when the going gets tough.

It's a lie we would rather believe because going in the opposite direction is simply easier.

But easier yields no growth, no betterment, no future, no dreams.

I want you to know that the founders of InfertileAF make mistakes, but we believe what sets us apart is our transparency in owning our stories. We hope you own yours, too. We are working through our own stuff just like you are, and we are better for it.

Thank you for sharing in our lives, and in this company. We are so happy you are here.