I remember a few years ago I read an article that talked about an art gallery opening. The layout of the event was set up like a person’s house. With several different rooms, all with different types of artwork in them. One of the spectators arrived via skateboard, and instead of carrying it around with him, left it leaning against one of the hallway walls close to the entrance. Everyone that arrived after him, stopped to photograph his skateboard. They all perceived it as a work of art.
When it comes to art, I am a novice at best. I know nothing about it. But there seems to be a lot of it. And it’s got me thinking… Who has to perceive something as art for it TO BE art? And better yet: Who has to perceive you as something for it to be true and does it matter?
When I first read about the Fearless Girl statue. I was immediately drawn to her. I read every story I could find that mentioned anything about her. I don’t consider myself a feminist necessarily, or an art connoisseur by any means, but everything about this bold, brazen sculpture spoke to me. The artist was able to make this statue convey gumption in the most subtle yet unequivocal way.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this pony-tailed, little girl. Specifically, how she was placed in relation to the iconic Charging Bull. The male artist who created the seven thousand pound symbol of American power and resilience pitched quite the fit about the girl. Stating that the female artist who made this tiny, in comparison, 250-pound Fearless Girl statue had “altered the perception of the bull” because of where and how she was placed. Facing the bull. He isn’t entirely wrong. The statue had accomplished everything the artist had set out to do. Everything about Fearless Girl was very intentional. The artist said, “I made sure to keep her features soft, she’s not defiant, she’s brave, proud and strong, not belligerent”. And I think the artist was able to perfectly emulate that.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m perceived a lot lately. If people’s perceptions of me and even my own are an actuality. Everyone wants to see themselves in a favorable light, but is that the truth? I haven’t been reaching my potential professionally. And while some of the fault undoubtedly rests on my shoulders, I believe it is also a product of my environment.
I’ve decided it’s time for a career change. I don’t fit in in the wealth management industry. I am not naturally meek or mild, but this position has forced me to be both in some instances. I don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel unsure almost every day. In most of the things I do. Except when I’m talking to clients. That’s when I’m at home. I’m confident that whatever they need, I can help them. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll put on my Nancy Drew hat and work tirelessly until I find it and report back. I’ll conquer the unknown happily and fearlessly. Because I know that when I do, the client will be thankful. I will have helped them accomplish something they couldn’t have done on their own. And that is a great feeling.
One of the things I miss the most in my current position is being part of a team. I guess technically, I am. But Just because someone says “you’re apart of the team!” doesn’t make it so. That means they may think of you as that, but if no actions are there to support this thought, then does it matter how they perceive it? Shouldn’t how I feel carry some weight? Whose perception is correct?
Over the last couple months, I’ve had several interviews. And recently, I have had 2 men, in a hiring position, tell me that I “seem like I can be a bitch when necessary”. They aren’t wrong, I guess. I like to get shit done. But, I didn’t love how the word “bitch” hit my ear. One person immediately felt bad and said: “I mean that as a compliment”. And that’s how I had taken it. I think that’s how some people perceive being strong and taking charge. When and how people use that word can and do have different connotations. Whether that’s right or wrong, well, I guess it depends on the perceiver…
I have been offered an amazing position. One that I am so excited about it gives me chills. It’s at a fantastic company run by an incredible group of successful, intelligent women. I didn’t know if I was going to get it honestly. The interview process was intense. And I don’t know if I was necessarily the best candidate on paper. But as it would turn out, after 5 meetings, and hours of some of the most self-reflective questions I have ever been asked, they chose me. And I know that I won’t have to be meek or mild. I won’t have to feel like an outsider. I’m going to be a part of a team. Like, for real this time. I can be confident, tough, determined. All of the things that The Fearless Girl and I were meant to be.