Existence (in parentheses)

I came across an interesting trend in the email chains that I am normally a part of. The salutation is often: “Gentlemen (and lady)” at best, and “Gents” at worst. I’m parenthesized when I’m not completely overlooked. Keep I mind I’m not an assistant, junior engineer or trainee. I’m a Lead Engineer with very specialized training. I run a group and am an integral part of the team.

I’m also fairly nerdy and this is the definition of parentheses:

“a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it.”

I’m put into the conversation as an afterthought, in a group that is complete without my presence. Interesting…

Though I’ve often been told that I am far too sensitive about these sorts of things, I wonder if people realize the implications of their own limited beliefs. They project their sexism, entitlement and lack of inclusivity into everything they do, every piece of communication, every interaction.

These are otherwise kind and polite professionals, who are friendly and collaborative. But when you are confronted with years of emails and a barrage of being left out due to gender, it’s no wonder to this day I still feel like I just don’t fit in. I could never place my finger on it, and believe me, I dawned every mask I could find in order to play masquerade in the futile hope that that would make me feel more included. But this year I have been intentional about being myself, removing the tough girl facade and just being comfortable in my own skin, no matter the environment.

And so, I am no longer comfortable living in parentheses. I am my own thought. Not an afterthought. I am worthy of my own place in this world. And I am going to take up as much space as I can. Outside of parentheses.

Mask off.
All me.
Let’s do this.

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