So let me tell you a little story – I commute fairly far to my day job in London from Cambridgeshire and you do feel that you get to the point where you are at the ‘awkward nod’ stage with the regulars on the platform. Recently I had noticed that one middle aged (white) man who kept standing next to me on the platform was continually putting his arm out to block me so he could get on the train first. I know – childish right? Well after one particularly stressful week I decided I was fed but and asked him to stop – I told him that if he was so desperate to get on the train on the off chance that there was one seat (for all of 5 mins until the train empties out) then to be my guest.
Now what happened next wasn’t something I excepted. He said ‘Well some of us travel to London to important jobs so deserve the seat’. After blinking in shock I retorted ‘How do you know I don’t have an important job exactly?’…
‘Because you don’t dress like you do….’.
Say WHAT?! Now to put it into context – my work do not have a dress code – you could pretty much rock up wearing PJ bottoms and I am pretty sure nobody would judge you! I do like to make an effort when I go to work – sure I am maybe wearing jeans and a knit but the outfit is thought out and makes me feel epic – teamed with a face full of kick ass make-up I leave the house confident and like I could take on the world most days.
It really got me thinking – just because I wear jeans and love make-up means that I can’t possibly have a worthwhile important job? Where did this logic come from? Needless to say his assumptions made me fizz with rage.
Big news flash – a woman can be into fashion and make-up and still make a contribution, have political views and probably kick your white male privileged ass in a boardroom – honestly – give it a go and come at me I dare you.
I then also noticed when speaking at a recent event that an older man at the event kept talking down to me and chose me to pull up when giving examples – the only thing I could think of was that it was my age as there was other women speaking too. I do notice at times when attending these events that I am usually the youngest person on the line up. Now to some (not all!) it means that clearly I don’t know what I am talking about. Now I see it as the fact I have worked my butt off to get to where I was and I know what I am talking about – jokes on you!
But – I am not innocent when it comes to assumptions. I then was very aware of all of the assumptions I made on a daily basis and I was horrified with myself. I even do it at work, assuming the worst and realising that it was giving me the fear to do a lot of things – it was actually holding me back. Why assume that person knows you’ve appreciated their work or thoughts – SAY IT!
It really hit home to me that we all need to stop making assumptions and realising that nobody can fully know what is going on with another person. After all – the saying ‘don’t assume – it makes an ass of u and me’. Say it out loud – you’ll get it!