I thought I was done crying. I thought I was over my emotions and ready to be rational with my boss when I walked into her office on that Tuesday morning. Brown biker boots clunked down the hallway and nestled underneath the table. Sturdy and eyes wide, bypassing pleasantries to recite the speech I prepared on the walk from the train station.
I was going to tell her how their actions reflect poorly on the organization, how they disenfranchised their workers (me!), and how they had failed to properly weigh the gravity of their decisions. This is the moment that years of rocking out to the Beastie Boys (Fight For Your Right) and Public Enemy (Fight The Power) and attendance at a women’s college had me salivating over. Gloria Steinem would invite me over to burn bras and eat bon bons for what I was going to say. My voice wasn’t going to crack and my shoulders weren’t going to slump over.
Not so sure when it happened, but soon enough I was reaching into her tissue box to pat my eyeliner that had begun to run. Nose clogged and throat closing up, I tried to drive home my points. Frustration grew within me. I was crying. Here, I was sitting in front of my boss, in her office having an emotional breakdown.
I wish I could be the Don Draper equivalent of calm, cool, and collected. I wish my feelings didn’t betray me. I wish my lips didn’t quiver when my blood boiled. I wish I could walk in a room and make people sit up straighter and work harder. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I were a robot that didn’t have to worry about my feelings compromising my integrity.
I dabbed the corners of my eyes and wiped up my nose to connect with her eyes, and there I saw the light from the window shine on a tear of her own. I waited for it to drop from her eye, but it never did. She held her hand over her heart and her voice softened, “Melinda, I am so sorry that you feel this way. I don’t want you to ever feel hurt over something we have done.” I apologized for my tears, and she interjected to say, “Your tears mean that you care so much, that’s what I see.”
I can’t think like a man. I am over trying to boost up my testosterone and searching for something that I don’t have, to become something I never even aspired to being.
I smile to get someone to move my desk or use flattering language to boost the ego of others to adjust their schedules, I manipulate emotions to evoke empathy and sympathy in others to get what I want. I don’t mean to do it, as much as men don’t intend to use their broad shoulders and deep voices to intimidate others into compliance. It’s who I am.
I’m type of woman that I was told to never become, but I like it. I am me without apology or regret. If feminism was supposed to be all about wearing pants and running around trying to be something that I’m not, count me out. Instead, I like to think that I’ve found a way to embrace all that I am (and am not) to get all that I want, without having to kill the best pieces of me.