Just Get Over It

Get over yourself.
Get over your fears.
Get over those hurt, misunderstood feelings.
Get over those hurdles.

Because once you get over, you can get on, right?  Get on with your goals, get on with your dreams, get on with your life.  The only thing holding us back from getting on is getting over.

There’s merit to this.  “Get over it” suggests that sometimes, it doesn’t help us to spend obstinate hours mulling over why a meeting went sideways or why our words were misunderstood.  Sometimes, it really is in our best interest to chalk it up to experience, to chance or mishap, and just keep plowing forward.  Especially in those situations where there’s no fix, there’s no changing the outcome, and there’s really little chance for a future repeat.  Get over it and get on with it.

However, “get over it” can also be an excuse to gloss over an uncomfortable moment.

I’ve referred several times in my blogs and postings to the “glass obstacle course” that women in business face – women in any business, but especially in male dominated industries.  I’ve been noodling over a series of blogs about the glass obstacle course concept, and last week, I wrote a list of what I perceive those obstacles to be.  As I wrote it, I thought, “Wow, I am starting to sound like one of those strident femi-Nazis that Rush Limbaugh used to make fun of…”  And suddenly, concern about being assigned to that particular group paused my list-making.  What is it in my generation that makes many women uncomfortable with the word “feminist”?  Is it because we’re sandwiched between the extreme stereotype of the man-hating, bra burning, “second wave feminists” of the 60s and 70s, and the blithely oblivious millennials who still have a thin understanding of the impact gender plays in our lives, at work and at home?  I scribbled some notes, I expanded my list of glass obstacles, and I sat uncomfortably with the idea of being a feminist writer. 

And then I just got over it.

Worrying about being labeled is something that I can justify needing to “just get over it.”  I can’t control any name-calling or pigeon-holing that might take place based on how someone interprets my words.

But I can’t justify “just getting over” the obstacles on the list I created. We need to work through these, sometimes crush these… but we do ourselves a disservice to ignore or make light of them. Workplace challenges are very real.  Telling women to just get over it means telling them to play along to get along in corporate America – in the name of getting along with men.  This is not a new concept but what I keep seeing are articles and videos and speeches by women, for women, that tell us how to play the game.  Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In describes a lot of the challenges in corporate culture.  She lays out in the open the pitfalls women face when advancing their careers.  But her guidance to other women is very narrow.  Her own story, while true to her, isn’t everyone’s story.  Not all of us have a wonderfully supportive husband.  Not all of us have husbands.  Not all of us want to play the corporate game under the existing rules of engagement. Anne Marie Slaughter tells women they can’t have it all… at least, not what they want when the want it.  Life is about making decisions but if you believe you can’t have your all when and where you want it, then you’re right. You won’t. You already decided that.

The majority of advice women hear is about contorting themselves to conform to the man’s game.  This still puts the control in the hands of men – we adjust our rhythms to a pattern men are comfortable and then we can get ahead. But I posit that men and women don’t even define “having it all” the same way, so why are we playing their game?

There are two concepts I want to discuss throughout my next several blogs:

  • First, the glass obstacle course is real.  Some obstacles are there as a result of history and culture.  Some are there because we women put them there.  It is worth the time to examine them and figure out the smartest way to get over them.  Some we will need to smash. Some we might rebuild into a new pathway through.  And some, well, we might just need to get over them.
  • Second, there’s no denying office politics, corporate culture and games that are played when climbing the proverbial ladder.  You want to play that game – you want that c-level title?  Fine.  That’s an admirable objective.  But does that mean you need to play their game? We need to explore our own power to change the rules and the outcomes of these games.  Educate our peers – male and female – on our expectations for the rules of engagement.
I invite you to join me on an exploration of the glass obstacle course and the rules of engagement.  Everyone’s is a little bit different, but I bet many of the obstacles I’ve seen and faced are the same as yours.  We’re not going to smash every obstacle, but we’re going to do our best to avoid those tiny, painful slivers of glass when we do.  More than anything, we will have an honest conversation about what we want and how we go about getting it. On our terms.


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