I spent 95% of my childhood being bullied, and an equal 95% of my adult life fighting bullies. But, I always got back up and kept on moving.
My first few years of practicing law were full of subjection to lewd comments by male partners and condescending and inflammatory sexual remarks by male associates. I will never forget the one who knew he could wedge his power by speaking to female associates and staff members in demoralizing ways. He could grab as many female asses as he wanted while he walked down the hallway, openly ask me if I kept the door closed to my office so “I could play with myself,” and brag about the affairs he had with his “binders of women.” If you didn’t join in his lynch mob at happy hours on Fridays, you were an outcast and just another joke he enjoyed adding to his lengthy tab.
It was place where women weren’t respected or valued, but simply a microcosm of a greater social problem. A lack of respect emulated from every corner. The years continued and so did the bullying. The chauvinist I worked for who later became my opposing counsel and called me a “whiny little JAP” in the middle of a deposition because I refused to entertain his inappropriate conduct. The male opposing counsels who would condescendingly call me “honey,” “sweetie,”and “little girl,” when I was a full-fledged practicing attorney. The degrading continued and spiraled.
I spent years dwelling in self-loathing, hating a negative and demeaning profession that I wanted to desperately love, but couldn’t. I believed I deserved so much more, but for so long, I accepted living a life of not getting the respect I wanted. I became a lost soul who was on a constant path that took me to nowhere. I was floating through life, but not really soaring the way I wanted to or knew I could.
One day, I decided to boldly leave law and dictate the terms of my own life as my own boss. People doubted me. They laughed at me. They scoffed at me. They told me I was an idiot for giving up my legal career and educational achievements. They said I would never make it. But, I found my own inner resilience that became like an outer metal shield. It propelled me to work harder than I ever had before and nothing could or would stop me.
I didn’t look back. I said no to the things that no longer served me, degraded me, and scared me. I fought against all odds. I cried in private on the days I needed to, but I got back up as soon as I could and kept fighting. I finally became self-assured, self-reliant, proud of my independence, and most importantly – resilient!
I grew my own successful business venture as a highly-respected career expert with national and international clientele.
When Donald Trump’s chauvinistic, bigoted, and racist history revealed itself in one of the ugliest elections of our time – talking down to women, ostracizing them, and objectifying them and anyone who did not meet the “white male majority” – it reminded me of what the legal profession and Corporate America felt like for so many years for me. I remembered the stuff I had compartmentalized for so long into my subconscious.
Hillary started a revolution for many women and minorities to stand up and be proud of fighting for what we believe in and fighting to stand on equal ground. “Nasty woman” became a badge of honor that independent and strong women like myself were proud of. We were fighters and we weren’t going to stop.
I didn’t vote for Hillary because I am a feminist, I voted for her because my moral compass wouldn’t allow me to vote for Donald Trump. The way he bullied others, the way he downplayed a woman’s right to choose, the way he objectified women, the way that hate groups like the KKK flocked to him, the way he made fun of disabled people, and the way he tweeted without a care in the world were the reasons I could not vote for him. I feared for the rights of my gay friends who fought so hard to be married just like I am. No matter if he could save our economy or improve national security, his moral code did not represent mine. I wanted someone who would protect my social rights, value them, and widen them.
The election results devastated me, but I wasn’t alone. Shortly before the election, I was invited into a Facebook group known as the Pantsuit Nation. It was a safe place where women, men, and transgendered people shared their personal struggles of being minorities, overcoming abuse and rape, being discriminated against for being gay, as well as violated and disregarded in ways that only opened my eyes further and said, we can’t have Trump in office. I felt less and less connected to the things that led my friends to vote for Trump.
You see, as a successful entrepreneur and business owner, Trump’s proposed economic policies would actually enable me to pay less taxes. It may have even helped my business grow more. But, I value my social freedoms far over my economic plights. My friends who voted for Trump are not bigots or rapists, but they placed their values into another pot that I just didn’t agree with. They saw Hillary as a criminal and corrupt, and Trump as someone who could “fix” America and bring “great change.” I overlooked all of that, and voted based on my conscience and my heart.
In her concession speech, Hillary so eloquently stated, “Our country is big enough for everyone’s dreams” and to “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” Her speech emulated resilience.
You can call me a whiny liberal, you can say that I am a sore loser, you can tell me to get over Hillary’s loss. But I will tell you one thing: I will continue my resiliency. I will continue to bounce back, I will continue to rise to the top and soar. I will continue to be the badass that I am in my career and my life. I will not allow the election results to overtake my independence, my pride, or my values. The struggles of being bullied have left a scar, but I am proud to be a fighter, a motivator, and I’m proud stand tall for the rights of us, and for those whose candle burned out fighting for these rights.
Resilience. It’s what we need to share our story, to continue our fight, and to be stronger for what’s to come.
Photo credit: Mary Purdie of the Pantsuit Nation