Did you really just say that?

 

On Wednesday I posted about racism on the blog, and I made a statement that I now realise needs some expanding on. I didn’t add anything to that paragraph in the post at the time because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making that statement and then saying ‘oh but not like that..’.

Saying ‘I’m a racist’ is not something to say lightly. Perhaps it was foolish, but I won’t erase it and pretend it never happened.

As I outlined in Wednesday’s post, I have been doing a lot of reading and listening this year, on issues of inequality and racial injustice. That has led me to conclude that I can’t dismiss racism within myself simply because I perceive myself as a ‘good person’. 

I’ll state here that my use of we and our in these posts refers to white people and the dominant culture in Australia, as that’s where I live. 

I am a white woman. 

I benefit from white supremacy in my everyday life in such a way that I’m completely oblivious to it. It just ‘is’I live in a society that’s very structures promote whiteness as normative and right. 

I accept that white privilege is real. I believe it is so ingrained in our culture that we can’t see it. 

Now that I know these very basic things, I have to hold myself accountable for being a beneficiary of white supremacy. The images that these terms conjure up are potent, and there’s absolutely no way that I can see into the minds of everyone, or anyone, who reads this and thereby mitigate any negative reactions that I may receive. That’s something I need to be okay with, as I have no other choice.

When I talk now about racism, I don’t see it meaning someone who yells racial slurs at people in the street, I don’t think of it meaning that I hold conscious hatred or prejudice for people who aren’t also white. For too long, whave associated racism with only doing bad things.

I see it as saying, yes, I’m aware now that I’m part of the problem. Until I go from someone who is a beneficiary of a system that favours me simply because of the colour of my skin, to someone who is actively ANTI-racist, then I’ve decided that labelling myself as racist or as someone who is working against racist structures, is the very least I can do towards acknowledging that the way that the world is structured is deeply flawed. 

There’s something about this decision, that for me (and I can only speak for myself) has taken the sting out of the word racist. It’s a word we run from, it’s a word we fear, because we don’t want to be known as a bad person. 

Blogging is an ongoing conversation with the internet. Single posts don’t contain all the information about a given topic. This is an incomplete, immature and tenuous process. I’m okay with that.

My main goal in writing about stuff like this is sharing my experience. If something I share can spark a conversation, or lead to someone thinking about something from a new perspective, that’s brilliant. If not, this blog has always been about my wanderings, wonderings and words, and this is where I am right now. 

 

I am a novice. I will get things wrong. That’s part of growing.



Annette 

Back On Track

Hey friends, 

I think it’s time for a little career update. (What a concept!) 

I could sum it up this way; “We’re not in Latvia anymore, Toto!” 

Hmmm, that bastardisation of a classic movie line only works if my writing sticks in your mind like chewy clings to hair….

For those with more than my old blog posts ruminating around in their heads, you can get the context for that declaration here

Remember when I briefly worked for those number-lovin’ Lats last year? What a misstep that was. 

*eye roll*

Two weeks ago I started a new administrative job in a small property law practice. Being a part-time role, it is much less financially rewarding than my stint at the Latvian Embassy, but it is so much more rewarding in ways that money can’t buy. For instance, I don’t have to rush out the door and battle morning peak hour traffic…. whoop glory! 

Most importantly, I fit there. 

As someone who bangs on about non-conformism and can’t think of anything sadder than wearing a workplace – or any place – cloak of invisibility, it may seem strange that fitting in (at work) rates so highly for me, but it does, and here’s why. 

When you fit, there’s ease. 

This means that if you’re wired like I am, a compelling, confounding yet alluring mix of confidence, rebellion and stupidly high expectations of myself when it comes to learning (some) new things, feeling a sense of ease and rightness is critical to not having a meltdown when, shock, horror, you don’t perfect something after 3.4 minutes seconds. 

I know, right? It’s not as if anyone in the history of ever – except me – couldn’t grasp something after one rushed explanation… oh, is the sarcastica font showing up on your screen? I sure hope so. 

Being the new girl, being a beginner, starting over again; that can be challenging. 

The thing is, there’s no alternative path. New things are new. And I, and you, can’t know in advance everything that is required. Bummer dude. 

As my new job is in a legal practice, where I have many years of experience, the familiarity of that helps me cope with any omygodimissedthatthing freak outs that may crop up. I’ve held similar roles before and I’ve loved them and excelled in them. It’s been a while though, so some forms, processes and procedures have changed, and the way things are done always changes from business to business. 

Do I scan it and copy it for the file? 

Is it filed under number, number, name, date or name, number, number, date? 

Why are these phones not working!? (That one’s universal but the frustration is always new!)

Knowing what a PDF is isn’t the same as being familiar with Adobe. 

Where are the pens? 

Who took my pen? Seriously, give it back. (Yes, I have an issue with pens, deal with it.)

Overwhelmingly, what I feel every afternoon as I follow the tram tracks to the office, is that I’m back on track. 

I have a job I know I can succeed in, and that makes me so happy. 

Bonus: Mirrors everywhere, cheeky selfies have never been so easy! 

 

Now gainfully employed, I remain, your compelling, confounding, alluring pal,

Annette  ðŸ˜„ 

 

 

PS If you’d like to contribute to my getting back on track fund, just click here. Thanks!

 

 

In praise of beginners

Five, four, three, two, one… lift off! 

Begin.  

Start. 

There are many, many ways to launch into action. No matter which way you choose, they all have one commonality – a beginning. 

More and more, it seems that people are increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of being a beginner. 

New habits, new creative outlets, new careers, new relationships – they all have to start somewhere, right? 

What is it about beginning that makes our palms sweaty and our hearts race? 

A response I hear often is that nasty four letter F word – FEAR.  

Fear of not knowing what we need to know. 

Fear of not knowing how to get where we want to go. 

Fear of not having a fixed goal. 

Fear of looking, and feeling, stupid, of being irrelevant. 

Fear of being discovered as an imposter. 

Fear of not being exactly 100% on point the very first time we try something new. 

 

I’ve felt all of these things, and it is a profoundly uncomfortable experience. 

Beginning involves fear, there’s no getting around that. 

If the goal is to avoid fear at all costs, we can simply write off ever learning anything new. 

If we don’t put ourselves in the place of being a beginner, we can avoid a lot of uncomfortable feelings. 

That’s a valid option, but at what price? 

 

Think of it this way, almost everything we interact with and enjoy in life comes from someone’s curiosity and their willingness to explore that curiosity. That’s what being a beginner is; being curious enough to take action.  

Did you boil the kettle this morning to make a cuppa? 

Read a newspaper? 

Travel by car/bus/train/tram/bike?

Television wasn’t invented when my grandparents were young. 

The concept of the internet – science fiction, until people began to work on creating it! 

Croissants, traffic lights, press studs, chopsticks, craft blogs, pet hotels, everlasting gob-stoppers…. all of those things exist because someone’s curiosity trumped their fears. 

They began. 

Beginning changes the world. 

That doesn’t mean that every beginning will set you on an epic path, but without beginners, there wouldn’t even be any paths! 

Beginners are rad.

Beginners have courage and stamina. 

Beginners are curious enough to tell their fears to pipe down while they explore new territory. 

Beginners deserve a frickin’ PARADE, because they are having a crack at something. 

The something could be mastering chess or learning to speak Italian. It could be knitting or coding or tightrope walking or kinesiology. 

Beginners often feel vulnerable, and need encouragement to keep going. They need support from more learned beginners, as teachers and mentors. 

Beginners do not need to rush to become something ‘better’ than a beginner, because beginning is awesome! 

I am so inspired by beginners. I love people who feel those uncomfortable things that fear throws at them, who feel uncertain and awkward and six different kinds of dumb, but who push through those feelings in pursuit of whatever they are curious about.  

I say, BEGINNERS ROCK! 

If you are contemplating beginning, I have some advice for you:

Find other beginners you can bounce ideas off, and gain courage from. 

If you’re learning via a course, embrace the community of beginners you are part of, participate fully in discussions, offer your insights, trust your fellow learners, be open to feedback. Buy new notebooks, do your homework, download resources, and create a database of information you can refer to over and over. Mine every opportunity you’re offered. 

Ask questions. Then ask follow-up questions. Questions are good. 

Email a more learned beginner in your field of interest. You might just find someone willing to share their best beginner’s tips with you. 

Most importantly, in the company of other learners, forge your own path. Find your point of view, your spin on things, and share it. 

Let curiosity take the lead, and don’t give fear top billing. 

And on the days where you feel overwhelmed, remember I’m here, cheering you on. 

Need a permission slip? Let me know and I’ll send you one. 

Let’s begin!

Annette x