What a piercing feeling is shame.
Shame is looking into your own eyes in the mirror and understanding that you are pushing aside your dearest priorities.
I have a friend – someone I not only like but admire, someone whose intelligence and strength are incredible – who is battling breast cancer for the second time in her life; she is only my age. A few weeks ago, this dear friend asked me to participate with her in our local 3-Day Walk to fight breast cancer. Could I have been more honored and thrilled? No way! I was beyond proud that she asked me to walk with her. Did I jump at the chance and say, “Of course! You can count on me!” I wish I could say yes.
Why did I hesitate? Fear. Stupid, selfish fear about my job prospects. Emphasis on the word “stupid.”
Here’s where my past caught up with me. During my up-until-now career, I ran into the occasional hiring manager who would consider a candidate’s consideration of his or her personal life in context of a potential job as proof that he or she would not be dedicated to the job in question. In other words, if a candidate, during an interview, asked about things such as expected office hours, overtime, vacation rules or even health insurance, that person was deemed too self-focused to hire. How could that individual possibly be counted on to effectively prioritize work if he or she could even recall they had personal life when discussing a potential job?
I mean, heaven forbid a working parent might be excited enough about a job opportunity during the interview to want to get a head start on ensuring adequate childcare is explored in advance… just in case an offer comes in. God forbid the candidate asking for these details might like to make even mental preparations for pet care, established travel plans, sports activities or anything else that might have to change with a new job. Clearly, it’s not about preparation. It’s distraction, lack of focus. Or at least so say these hiring managers. (If you’re not reading heavy, dripping sarcasm in these words… I just don’t know what to say.)
So now I’m facing the prospect of daily classroom observation in the fall – I’m so excited about it!! – but I’m shaking in my Naturalizers at the idea of asking my academic advisor or the administrator at my placement school if they’ll allow me to take one day off – one single day – to complete the 3-Day Walk. I have the opportunity of a lifetime to walk with and support my friend, who is fighting for her life, and I’m acting like a chicken. The worst part is that I know that any program that wouldn’t support my participation in this event, that wouldn’t see the loss of a single day as miniscule in importance to the impact of solidarity in the face of this battle, shouldn’t matter enough for me to worry anyway.
But I am worrying. I’m worrying like an inexperienced kid (“It’ll be on your permanent record!”)rather than the seasoned grown-up I’m supposed to be.
So this is my public declaration that I’m going to put aside my fear and ask about taking that day to be there for my friend.
Because if I don’t… what a shame.