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I am going to talk about a topic that I don’t normally address and that is feelings. Every so often, I recall my newbie days in business and there was one rule of thumb, “Never let them see you cry.” Okay, so that was back in the day when I was in a male dominated field and the only other women were typically the secretaries.

I learned to navigate the path of career advancement through the ribald cheers of men folk allowing the fairer sex to invade the workplace. Their workplace. I must admit that I did get mentored by some truly remarkable men. But the environment had a certain maleness quality.

I learned to “duke it out” with another team member and then have lunch together. I hardened my ears to foul language and didn’t flinch in its use. I didn’t take rubbish personally; it was just business. A punch in the deltoids was praise. And lastly, never, ever, let them see you tear up.

During this time, I would make trips out to my car where I could emote. Time myself out. Be at peace. And then gather my fortitude and march right back into the fray. I am sure they knew it; I was in my car crying. Surely the reddened eyes and nose gave distinct clues. And, the guys never mentioned it. I had earned their respect.

We just assumed our roles and pressed on with the daily projects and due dates. There wasn’t room for emotions because they weren’t part of the workplace landscape. You donned your apparel in the morning as if a suit of armor and went to do battle. You became impervious to the dimension of personal feelings. The prize was an office with a window and a managerial title. How you felt was not part of the equation.

Or so it appeared to me as a twenty-something player in this arena. Maybe I made it all up in my mind. Maybe the guys did feel something about what we did and how we worked together. Perhaps, we were just faking it because there was one thing that bound us all … vulnerability. The fear that someone might see us cry.

 

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