I have a great story to tell you. Now that my dad is on Facebook, he can corroborate the sequence of events. I was 15, and a water board commissioner. And, if you know me, you know that (1) I'm short, and 2) until Iolani came around and I stopped getting restful nights of sleep - I looked young for my age. So, imaging how intimidating it was for me at 15 to have to sit at commission meetings, be up to speed on the agenda, review minutes, and join in the adult conversation as if I was an equal.
The key part of this was "as if I was an equal".
There was one afternoon that we needed to go to the full county commission for a decision my water commission had made the week prior. I can't remember now if I needed to be there because the item wasn't supported by the county commission, I just knew I had to be there.
In any case, I arrive to the chambers, and was directed to sit at a specific table reserved for people of my stature...the appointed official. My dad of course - seated in the audience...with the rest of the community.
In the background, I see one of the older county commissioners enter into the room and take his seat up on the dais. He looks out, sees me sitting at this table and says into the microphone: "Hey, little girl, why are you sitting there?"
First off, who calls a 15 year old...a little girl? Ask any 15 year old girl today...it would be offensive.
That wasn't my point. I can look back to all the things in my life and I can tell you right now...that one comment is what sealed the deal for what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
I sat in that chair and answered: "I am a water board commissioner and this is my seat"
While I continued to justify why I sat in a particular seat, I can still recall that sharp moment of wondering if I was sitting in the right seat - but ultimately...I knew that I was in the right chair.
So, here's my peace/piece for the day: if someone questions you are sitting at a table you were clearly invited to...you just make it clear - you were invited to participate at this table, and you aren't going anywhere.
I know I keep going back and forth between the past and future of this story...readers of GH&T know that I tend to ramble...but I'll continue to justify this effort....
The car ride home from Shelton to Belfair (Because I didn't get my drivers license until I was nearly 17), I had to vent to my dad. That whole "Little Girl" statement really burned me at first. But, over the years I realized that it wasn't the "Little Girl" statement that hurt the most... is was the question of "why are you sitting there", seemingly trying to imply that seat was reserved for someone other than me.
Skip to today... I'm in the public affairs, outreach world. I'll skip the engineers references today, and tell you this... My job is to not ask the question "why are you sitting there"... My job is to ask the question: "why don't you sit here".
There's not a day that I don't enjoy what I do. I often feel like I might be one of the few people in the whole world that get to say to others "I am doing exactly what I went to school for"
And, with that...I'm going home to get caught up on the Real Housewives of Orange County.