31 Days, 32 Revelations: Chin Up, Dear!

Personal image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

Day 9 of 31- Chin Up, Dear!

From my teens and through my early twenties, I had this dream to become a model. When you live in NY, you don’t just sit on that dream you get on a train and hit the concrete jungle to make it happen. It was a grind that I loved. Between going to school and working I was combing the web for auditions whether they were for dance or modeling open calls. I went a long time without representation and that is its own bag of tricks. For those of you who have either danced, modeled or acted you know it involves a rollercoaster of emotions. You go from being really excited one moment to having that lump in your throat right before you get called to do your thing. Then there’s the aftermath. This is the affect of your ruminations about how you did on the audition; peppered with the comments and facial expressions made by the casting team.

Having been in the industry at a time,  the one thing I can tell you is that you have to have really thick skin. It is a very connected, clique-y profession. As a newbie, I was fresh meat and vulnerable to any criticism they wanted to make. You knew which girls had an established rapport. They didn’t even need their portfolio- it was “kiss-kiss and hug-hug and oh we missed you the other night at X lounge in Soho and they got the gig”. The one casting director that sticks out in my mind is a guy who was launching an urban brand. He was coming up on the heels of the urban fashion movement of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He suggested that I get a nose job and consider getting veneers to close up the gap between my teeth. I was forthright in telling him I would do none of the above, but the more time I spent in the industry hearing similar suggestions it began to wear on me. Momentarily, you start thinking should I get the nose job or the veneers? The pressures to look a certain way wear on you with time, if you don’t check it.

Photo courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

Image courtesy of Janine Truitt and Gap Inc.

The last straw was when I went to a dance/model audition for a notable rap artist who shall remain nameless. The director called me up after the audition to offer me the part in the video along with parts in upcoming videos he was directing with the likes of Alicia Keys and other artists. The one condition he had was I had to go out with him and his friend to drinks and do things I will leave to your imagination. That conversation ended with me telling him: “I am in college, I have a future, a boyfriend, and never call me again”. He got my drift and by some act of God I made it to the final string of auditions for the video. The artist got himself in a jam so we never got to formally shot the video. The artist also tried his hand with me and I had to set him straight as well.

Modeling was fun, but it was the first time in my life that I truly had to learn to live with rejection, being scrutinized and having to defend my standards and worth. It was a lot to deal with at the time, but I have been really thankful for the experience the past few years. When I’ve had to face rejection in the workplace or have been under scrutiny in a job; I always remember my modeling days and suddenly the situation doesn’t hold as much weight. I just tell myself “chin up, dear” you got this. Every time you show up to start a new job, project or make a life change it is like an audition. It could go really well or you could fail. Either way, the only thing that is sure in that moment is you showing up and doing what is needed. The rest is out of your hands. I also learned that you are nothing in this world if you don’t have a standards or values. I could have caved and acquiesced the director’s request and went on to do some huge projects that could have catapulted my modeling career, but at what cost- my dignity, worth, future husband (who was my then boyfriend)?

I walked away from modeling with my head held high and no regrets. I ultimately knew I had great things in store for me as a college student and professional. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy striking-a-pose once in a while, but modeling now serves as a distant memory and a lesson of fashionably sashaying away from things in life that compromise your worth.

 

Czarina’s Lesson: Everything in life is connected. It’s up to you to make the connections and recognize the lessons. 

31 Days, 32 Revelations: Green-Eyed Bandits

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

Series Introduction

Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.

 

Day 7 of 31- Jealousy

When I was in junior high school, I went through a tough time. Socially, I was smart enough to be considered a nerd but cool enough to not be completely shunned by the cool kids. The school district I went to was a mostly middle class district with a healthy portion of some low-income families mixed in. By the time I reached the seventh grade, I had a healthy helping of girls that would make my life miserable in school and after school as well. It was customary that a certain group of girls would somehow initiate other girls by fighting them. I had the displeasure of being one of the chosen ones. At that time, I was vying for Ms. Junior America here in NY and my face was posted up in most of our neighborhood establishments because they were sponsoring me. Full disclosure, I wasn’t a fighter. My parents were strict about school and so I focused on my studies and pretty much kept to myself and the small nucleus of friends I had at the time.

I fought every week for the majority of my 7th grade year. It got so bad that my grandparents had to come from Queens to where we lived in Long Island to pick me up after school just so I wouldn’t have to fight. I didn’t understand right away why I was the one to fight until the perpetrators started spilling the beans during the fights. I would hear “you think you’re cute because you have long hair” or “I don’t care if you were Miss Junior America, I will cut your face.” It took a while, but the conclusion was these girls were jealous of me and who I was becoming. I did well in school, was well-liked, came from a great home and had things going for myself. In contrast, these girls that often tried their hand with me were terrible in school, disruptive in class, pretty much all came from troubled homes and other unfortunate circumstances.

I was so disgusted with the fighting that I remember telling my parents I wanted to go back to Queens to go to school. I couldn’t imagine going through high school with these girls. The answer was “no”, of course. However, something kind of miraculous happened- I got tough. I hated junior high school for what I went through, but the truth is after 7th grade no one would dare come to fight me. After being antagonized daily, I decided I was not going to be a victim anymore and I fought back.

The end of junior high school was a blast and high school was pretty much smooth-sailing. I had one or two try to test me in 9th grade and they were sorry they tried. Beyond that, I went on to excel academically and no one was happier than me when I graduated and moved on to college.

In hindsight, this was an important time in my life. It was the beginning of a series of tests where people would try to beat me down and instead I would come out swinging. Friends of mine laugh when they hear me speak and find out I have an edge to me. I always tell them this story and say I had to become tough to survive. From my first job until now, I have been tested in a number of ways professionally- only this time the bullies have grown up and they have leadership positions in companies. What has never changed is “me”. I show up unapologetically to do the best job possible. Sometimes it was appreciated by my bosses and often times I was seen as a threat. When the green-eyed bandits entered once again- the 13 year old Janine is activated with a dash of wisdom and I  come out swinging.

Being green with envy and/or being jealous is a hell of a thing. It robs you of honing in on the things you excel at. It impedes your progress, because all of your focus is on what others are doing. Jealousy is certainly experienced by both males and females, but I have to say women have the men beat in this regard. From the playground to the corner office, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to advancing the women’s movement. Beating each other down is just one of the ways we undermine our wants and needs for equality. If I see another woman doing something I would like to do, it’s empowering to me. It doesn’t even dawn on me to hate her or wish her bad. Hence why, it has always been a mystery to me why some women dwell in this emotion of jealousy. It’s an ugly and counterproductive way to be.

Here are some other things I have learned about jealousy:

1) You are not the problem. Compromising who you are to make the jealous party feel better is unfair and unnecessary. You deserve to be who you are without repercussions (it took me a long time to figure this one out).

2) The root of jealously is admiration. On some level, the person who despises you sees things in you they wish they could be.

3) If it walks, talks, and sounds like jealously- it is jealously. I never like to jump to conclusions where humans are concerned. I would often see signs and try to talk myself out of the reality that there was a jealousy problem. When I was honest with myself the answer was apparent.

I’m fairly sure there are less egregious ways I could have become the woman I am today. I don’t think anything that has happened in my life so far is without purpose. As such, I choose to remember this time in my life as a time when I rose above the green-eyed bandits and found my strength.

 

Czarina’s Lesson: We cannot expect to be equal, when we are stepping on each other; rather than uplifting one another.

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