Pamela Chan, Publisher/BCFamily.ca
In a few weeks I will celebrate BCFamily.ca’s 5 year anniversary and I’ll be half way through my 12th year publishing content online.
That’s five years creating and curating content here (website), here (Facebook page), here (BCFamily Connect on Facebook), here (BCFamilyca on Twitter), here (BCFamilymedia on Twitter) and here (on Instagram).
At this juncture, I didn’t expect to receive feedback that was less than encouraging.
Recently I found myself taking a few go-rounds to explain that I wasn’t the publisher of a website that was created a few years after BCFamily.ca. I can understand the reason for the confusion but it was still disheartening to discover that my “branding” – if you will – is so weak that the existence of two different sites wasn’t obvious. The only site that came to mind when I said the name of mine was this other one.
Thoughts raced through my mind.
It’s my fault. I haven’t done X, Y, Z, A and B.
I didn’t come out of the gate full speed ahead.
I didn’t secure my position.
I didn’t brand my site strong enough.
I didn’t go big and present myself in that light.
I worked at a diminished capacity.
I should have done more because I’m not working full time outside of the home – unlike other people in a similar position.
A few days later, while attending a local event, I met up with someone who has known about BCFamily.ca for a number of years.
Are you still running your Facebook page?
“Whaa…t?”, I thought. On average I share about two to three parcels of information on the BCFamily Facebook every day. Here’s an example of what I shared today. (See here and here.)
In one week I heard that my efforts and my content have been lost in the social media shuffle.
This got me thinking that if you are looking for confirmation or validation of your efforts, feedback that comes your way will be mixed at best. Unlike these two social media examples, sometimes the feedback does indicate appreciative undertones… let’s just say.
Your Job Isn’t Substantial
A person (whose opinion mattered to me) once asked why I was being paid such a high salary to teach finger painting to children. At the time I was a Montessori Directress (teacher) employed by the oldest international school in Japan. Yes – this was one person’s opinion. But imagine my surprise when I once read the remarks that a teacher wrote on an online bulletin board related to a school I had attended.
Why was the information coming in about alumni indicating that graduates were teachers, social workers and people working in NGOs? Where were the doctors, engineers and lawyers?
It struck me that this teacher was saying “these soft careers are all very well but where is the information about graduates who have gone into the prestigious professions?”. This teacher might argue that I’m misrepresenting the question. Really? Because the trick is to ensure that what people understand matches what you are trying to say. At the time I was completing a graduate degree in Educational Administration and Leadership and working in educational policy research jobs.
Apparently I chose the soft option.
A Question of Worth
While I was still on paid maternity leave with my twin babies, I fielded calls from my place of work. There had been a change in management and “change” was afoot. I wasn’t on hand to defend my position or promote myself in any way. My non-union job was cut. One day I returned to my office to introduce my twin babies. A senior manager looked at me with my babies and said to her colleague “I don’t miss those years”.
Gee thanks sister.
So not only was my position cut but my role as mum is not worthwhile either?
To Matter, Lean In
When my children were toddlers I started to field questions about my career plans and options. At the same time a Job Exit (AKA Golden Handshake) HR consultant told me “I’m not going to lie. This is a really tough time for job seekers.” One day I was informed that a relative I barely know, and never hear from or see, had a fabulous new job in senior management, two young children, a lovely house and life that was going swimmingly. Just a normal “catch up conversation”, right? But it was being brought up by someone who has a theory that women are more happy and fulfilled if they go back to work when their children are no longer babies.
If Your History Isn’t Known, Did it Happen?
I’ve been working since I was 13 years old, when I decided to sell Direct Sales products door to door. Resourceful and persistent, I’ve sometimes worked at jobs that were neither stimulating nor paid that well. On more than one occasion I’ve taken a job just so I could pay the rent. Through persistence and advanced education opportunities, I improved my career options. I’ve traveled three hours round trip on various types of transit – while pregnant with twins – just to hold down a job. I’m not afraid of work. So when I’m told that it’s not so bad to work, how do you think I felt about that?
On different occasions I’ve heard references to women who stopped working outside of the home while they were raising their children for 10+ years.
They’re good for nothing.
What could they do in a job?
What skills do they have?
If you know that you’ve shared this opinion with me, fear not. You’re not the only one I’m quoting here. I use these words specifically because I find the message here to be short sighted. We live in an entrepreneurial age when women – in particular – are starting businesses and employing other people. This isn’t an easy path but anything is possible.
Women contribute to society in the form of unpaid, volunteer work (publicly and privately) in countless ways. Many organizations would run differently – and look quite different – without this contribution of time and talents.
I was surprised to hear in one conversation that another women who works in one common type of self-employed job was not in a “career job”. But when that same woman took on another project that seemed more glamorous and high profile, only then did heads nod in approval.
Good for nothing? Not a career job? Really?
Appreciation is Appreciated
Every now and then someone will write a comment or tell me in person why they appreciate my efforts or that they have benefited from the content that I create and curate. It’s up to me to listen and register how others are showing me their appreciation. This feedback makes a difference to me. I know that when I share similar feedback with others about their contributions, I can see that they understand that their efforts matter too.
There’s a lot of discouraging feedback out there that needs to be checked and counterbalanced by appreciation that only you and I can share.
I’ve Got 99 Definitions of Success…And This Ain’t One of Them
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