I'm AND not OR...my journey to breaking my limited mindset
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
I'm not sure when it started or how it happened. All I know is that I believed it. At some point in my life I believed that I was the traditional roles that were assigned to me or that I chose for myself. It was my dream to be a wife more than a mother. I assumed that one would come after the other. I've known my husband for over 22 years and married for 15 of those years. When I was a teen I would write my boyfriend's (now husband) last name after my name, I scribbled signatures all over my Math notes in class. I drew my new name in capital letters, in cursive, in calligraphy (yes I'm that girl) and in graffiti art. Looking back, it was crazy of me to think that he was going to be it for me.
I went off to university where I spent my obligatory time without any real direction of what I wanted as a vocation. So I dabbled in psychology like all freshman's, and then I took a course in Ancient civilizations (that was fascinating), continued with philosophy, statistics and then ended with accounting. Why accounting do you ask? Well.....because I was playing it safe. I had no clue who I wanted to be when I grew up, I just wanted to be a his wife and at that point I was thinking about have some babies. But, the world I grew up in and the time of history I found myself in was telling me to be "empowered" and "independent" and be "self-reliant". But my 21 year old self wanted the opposite of that message. I didn't want to go backpacking to Europe and stay in hostels with 20 strangers in a room, neither did I want to go right into the workplace, I wanted to get married and start my family. Like I said, in my bubble, I was the anomaly.
Finally I did become his wife. and a mommy to four beautiful children and in that ten year timeframe I experienced pregnancy, nursing, toddler tantrums and repeat, I realized that being a wife. and being a mom was no longer ENOUGH. I left the Accounting and Finance world for Not for Profit. I was great at my job, I added value and felt like I was part of a community. I later added more titles into my rolodex of jobs. I found that the world was starting to define me by the title I was holding in my vocation, rather than who I was inside. They would ask "what do you do?" and in my head I'm thinking what don't I do? I'm highly proficient in all these technical skills and soft corporate skills along with being everything that comes with the "motherhood" title. I think I fell into the trap of defining myself by what I did for a living rather than who I was trying to become in my experience of "living". I'm venturing off the deep end to say that I don't think I'm alone. Being a wife or a mother isn't enough, and on the flip side being a professional woman also doesn't feel like enough, at least for me that was the case. I felt that I was having a hard time reconciling my life and was compartmentalizing who I was at work and who I was at home. In this world we all wear different hats or masks in different areas of our lives. But something happened when I had my third child, something shifted in me.
I'm not sure I had the words to verbalize what I now know, but I was onto something. When I left the Not for Profit arena to partner with my husband in our own business, I realized that I could be many things. I'm no longer this OR that, but rather I'm AND not OR. In your own business you are the janitor, the secretary, the accountant, the marketer, the sales team, collections and everything in between. I had this mindset adjustment, it was subtle but very clear, I finally allowed myself to see myself as I truly am. I am a wife, AND a business partner, AND a mother AND friend, I'm an integral part of our business, AND community leader AND eventually the kicked the door open all the way AND I felt limitless.
No longer was the world going to define who I was supposed to be, but rather I took internal control and defined myself. I am a different someone to different people and my responsibility became to allow them to see me in different angles. No longer was I going to allow myself to compartmentalize different areas of my life because it was confusing for others to see me WHOLE. When I saw that it suited the world to put a label on me because it made others comfortable, I realized that I allowed them to put me in a box. But it is not like I was going to scream at the top of my lungs about my extensive resume. I needed to go outside of the boundaries I allowed others to put up, or maybe I allowed myself to stay behind the line. Either way, I'm not here OR there, I'm this AND that. I'm the woman who is multidimensional, can choose another direction, pivot AND change because my past choices no longer served me. I'm no longer just a wife to my husband or mother to our children. We are all more than the roles we've taken on, we are everything we set our heart to accomplish and the light we allow in is meant to amplify and reflect back to the world. When we own our power, we have the possibility of reaching our full potential. Because maybe, just maybe if we step into our own truth, take our past experiences and own our choices, then we can take back our power in defining who we are. When we are brave to speak our truth, then we give others the courage to do the same. Even if our voice shakes, we need to speak up and even if we are scared we need to enter the room. I'm not an OR I'm AND. So while we are many things to many people, we control the narrative AND I'm just not done adding to my resume, are you?