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Carry-On Luggage


I’ve been thinking a lot about the baggage that we all carry with us. Race, gender, sexuality, religious background, etc….they all add to the paranoia that people are prejudging us. When you’re told that you need to be more professional at work, for example, what does that mean? You don’t dress right? You need to wear makeup? Your speech is too casual? Without more specifics, we’re left to wonder if they really mean that you’ll never make the cut, that you need to disguise who you are, you need to conform. Why can’t we succeed as we really are–our “authentic selves,” as it’s called these days?

Sometimes it’s as simple as they’re not communicating, and if they told you what it was, you’d realize it’s really a minor issue that you can fix if you were just aware of it. But other times, it probably is as you suspect, and you have to decide: Do I conform to their expectations so that I can move up, or do I stay true to myself and possibly never make any progress? The problem with trying to make them happy is that everyone has their own expectations, and as soon as you make one person happy with your “growth,” you find out that the next person has a different gripe, and so on. And you spend all your time and energy trying to fit in, rather than excelling at what you’re really good at.

I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still struggling with my baggage. I’m proud of who I am. I like myself, and I appreciate my gifts and talents. But I’m afraid that no one else recognizes what I have to offer.


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