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A Strength I Never Knew

Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength.

"You're capable of amazing things" quote
Photo by Alysha Rosly on Unsplash

Lately, I've gotten the most random messages on LinkedIn. Recruiters and coaches have contacted me about jobs and things that are so irrelevant to me I have to just laugh. Today's was the best: a recruiter reaching out to me about an opening for a Bridge Carpenter Foreperson. Um, what?!

So, not only am I a writer who is all of 4'10" tall, but I'm also 32 weeks pregnant! 😝 I have shared my thoughts on LinkedIn regarding these (obvious) and irritating mass messages, though I haven't shared a word about my pregnancy -- even though I've thought about it.

Throughout parts of my pregnancy, I've sought new writing, editing, and coaching clients, and I've been open to new opportunities -- as long as they are remote and provide the flexibility I need yet also reflect what I'm worthy of (i.e. a decent pay rate). However, my emails and applications have largely been met with silence, which led me to question whether it's because of my mom-to-be status.

I'm pretty much an open book on social media and this blog, of course, and I even have Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to my infertility, health, and now-pregnancy journey. So, even though I began scrambling to change the settings on my accounts and make them private, I ultimately gave up -- especially after realizing that my "Hot Mess" pages are, by default, public pages. Oops.

"While employers may think of these types of women's issues as showing weakness, I see it differently. Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength."

It's an inner debate I've had often. I share my story because I think it's important, it helps me to process things, and it helps others as well. I can't even count how many people have reached out to me to thank me for sharing about my infertility and self-advocacy journey and, in turn, have shared with me a story of their own, whether they're struggling with infertility or another health issue. So, I truly believe in the power of stories and connection.

Scrabble letters spelling out "People remember stories."
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Yet, at times, there's been this tiny voice inside my head saying, "Maybe you shouldn't say that. Does everyone need to know? Could this affect my ability to land a good gig? Who wants to bring on someone they assume will be going on maternity leave and who probably won't be as productive?" (Don't even get me started on maternity leave -- being freelance, I don't get any paid leave so I'm hoping to just take a couple of weeks off. Thankful for all the support I've got at home, luckily.)

By this point, I'm eight weeks away from my due date, and so I'm not putting a ton of effort into seeking new opportunities, of course, so screw it. I'll share if I want to. I am also working on turning my story into a memoir. It's a story that needs to be told, but with other work and the exhaustion that comes with the territory (some days are worse than others -- I'm not a total sleepyhead), my timeline for this project has to be extended. But it will get done. I've even gotten numerous signs from the universe that I'm on the right path.

Women's health topics, including infertility and pregnancy, have historically not been the kind of topics people are totally open to discussing, especially within the context of work. But I've been open when I feel it served me to so that I can be better understood why I can't bend down, why some days I'm tired or lightheaded, why some days -- many days during IVF treatments -- I've had to take time off for appointments or procedures. I was open even though there were times afterward, where I felt a little icky for sharing. But that feeling would never last long.

Me holding up "HOPE IS NOT LOST" sign
Me holding up "HOPE IS NOT LOST" sign

While employers may think of these types of women's issues as showing weakness, I see it differently. Showing vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Continuing to push through despite the odds against me (poor egg quality, hypothyroidism, and a yet-to-be diagnosed endometriosis diagnosis) and undergo seven rounds of IVF, eight embryo transfers, several IUIs, multiple failures, and two early losses, including a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy -- without giving up despite the financial and emotional toll of it all -- shows just the opposite of weakness. It shows incredible strength, a strength I never knew I had.

From listening to my body and my gut, I knew there was something wrong that was getting in the way (this turned out to be the endometriosis I never knew I had).

And the more it seemed as if I couldn't, the more I became determined to prove everyone wrong -- a transferable strength I can apply to other areas of my life, including work and career.

Person holding inspirational message reading, "Let your intuition guide you. You are what you've been looking for."
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash


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