I’ve had a full year! It’s hard to believe I was suicidal this time last year. A couple months ago my boss let us know we would have performance evaluations by the end of the year and gave us a list of what she expected us to prepare in advance and provide during our evaluation. Being who I am, I immediately began working on this and continued refining it up until about 30 minutes prior to my evaluation! This was really eye-opening as I looked back at the year and the massive changes in my life and who I am which have occurred.
List and describe the top 3 strengths I bring to the team & programs I work with:
- Commitment – I believe in the work we do. I find it interesting, challenging and gratifying. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work in this capacity and would not trade this work for any other job.
- Flexibility – I respect the people I work with and recognize their diverse talents and experiences. I do not want to control how the work gets done, I want to support teams in being successful through their unique combination of abilities. I am excited by the opportunities we have to innovate and have a real, positive impact on the lives of Oregonians.
- Drive – I am an achiever. I look for tangible accomplishments, every single day, to feel as though I have done a good job. In the absence of such, I am dissatisfied and have an internal drive pushing me to do, achieve more. This fire keeps me looking forward, is my power supply which causes me to set a fast pace and requires high levels of productivity.
List and describe my top personal values:
- Set high ethical and professional standards at all times; build and maintain relationships based on honesty, respect, responsibility, trust, equity, humility and a commitment to open dialogue and transparency. Demonstrate these values in every interaction and relationship, every day.
- Don’t hesitate to start difficult conversations; support and learn from one another, standing together to achieve the highest levels of professional behaviors.
- Embrace individual ownership and effort without sacrificing working as a team which values the expertise, insights, individuality and the contributions of all.
- Build interconnections in the work we do; compliment and leverage each others strengths to create synergy & internal partnerships which increase our value to all customers.
- Always respect the fact that we are funded by taxpayers and have a relentless responsibility to provide value to Oregonians every day.
- Be passionate about providing quality with agility, focusing on delighting customers and exceeding expectations as the heart of all we do. Strive to replicate success, learn from mistakes and actively pursue creative approaches that lead to continuous improvement and innovation.
- Be flexible and nimble, responding quickly to change. Provide uncompromising service with efficiency, accountability and a helpful attitude, embracing every opportunity to learn and grow with enthusiasm. Focus on overcoming barriers and giving options to allow customers to choose and buy-in to personalized solutions rather than focusing on what cannot be done.
- Seek to understand customer perspectives so they always feel listened to and know you care about their individual needs. Ask questions, be a good listener and practice paraphrasing back not only what they want but how they feel and their point of view, showing you take them seriously.
- Follow through on doing what you say you will do, go beyond good enough and give the extra mile. Explore, be creative and use all available resources to provide the highest quality service, doing things right the first time.
- Contribute individually and extend my reach through leading by example, asking questions, always seeking solutions and embracing humor as tools for creating a fun and positive environment.
- Take the time to know, respect and cultivate an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute to their fullest potential, is treated with dignity and respect and where talents and skills are not only valued, but actively leveraged to enhance the services we provide.
- Support an adaptable workplace, recognizing the significance of job fulfillment and the mutual desire to do meaningful and satisfying work.
- Be an active participant in creating a safe, healthy and happy workplace, exploring ways to bring humor and laughter into our days. Consistently participate in sustaining an atmosphere that promotes celebrations, enthusiasm and passion for what we do.
- Always work as part of the team and remain focused on succeeding together – not competing.
- Be willing to take risks and allow my natural curiosity to lead me to exploring new ideas and experiences.
- Remain open-minded, particularly when under stress.
- Embrace change, knowing growth is not possible otherwise.
- Realizing that I am the center of my universe, constantly work to understand others’ point of view and always seek a holistic understanding as the basis of decisions and actions.
- Consistently place equal or greater importance and effort on supporting the growth of others as my own growth.
The first thing I told my boss after handing this over was a disclaimer that I was not plagiarizing but did build my definitions of my values in part by reviewing our workplace’s guiding principles. Part of why I work where I do is because I sincerely believe in our guiding principles, so it felt natural to incorporate some of the same language and concepts. My boss not only approved, but agreed that this was also the case for her!
Looking back on my Self Portrait series from the first half of the year, I can see the roots of where I am now. As should be expected, I’ve had my mistakes, my thrills, my struggles and more than my fair share of really hot sex (with men and women )! In a quiet act of self-recognition and defiance, I began wearing the BDSM symbol back in May. It hasn’t passed a single day not round my neck since it arrived 🙂
This year I have learned a lot about just how vast and diverse the LGBTQIA community is, in part thanks to watching I Am Cait. Additionally, after Trump’s election, many members of this community have been extremely vocal about their fear, bereavement and much more. As one of Trump’s voters, I initially saw this reaction as unwarranted. As far as Republican candidates go, Trump is very moderate in his views in my opinion. In my mind, Trump is a businessman. Sure, he’s also someone who doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut and has many views with which I disagree, but I was far more afraid of the consequences both times we elected Obama. I truly do not believe Trump will attack those of us who don’t fit our cultural norms, he will be too busy trying to create financial security for our country. This is what I felt was most important, and thus the single most important factor which swayed my vote. Want to know when I’ve voted for a candidate I thought was perfect? Never.
That being said, I cannot ignore the continuing out pour of fear and sadness from the LGBTQIA community. What I thought was simply a knee-jerk, superficial reaction to news that was not preferred clearly was something else as the distress has continued rather than abating as I expected. While I still do not personally understand being afraid to sleep at night as H’s gay cousin expressed, I will not ignore that there is obviously more to this than I understand. While Trump has been elected, he has not yet been sworn in. I don’t understand the change that literally took place overnight in the community just because our near future is not what many hoped for. I don’t sense an immediate threat to myself, my freedom or an increased threat to my personal safety.
Now, what I should probably mention at this point is my privilege, which I acknowledge is not shared by many. I pass as a cisgender, heterosexual woman. Although this is definitely not at all the case, I know this is the assumption others automatically make about me in our country’s culture. Here’s something I’m a little afraid to say – sometimes I feel jealous of people who are transgendered as well as people who are homosexual. I have heard so many times stories told by transgender people about how they knew they were in the wrong body at 5 years old, sometimes younger! There are similar stories told by homosexual people who as a young adult just knew the opposite sex held no attraction for them. What I hear when I hear these stories, is how CERTAIN these people are that they know who they are. And that’s something I am still struggling with.
I have a hard time identifying as part of the LGBTQIA community for many reasons. My appearance does not point out my membership and although I’ve long labeled myself as ‘bisexual’ I’m starting to realize this is not entirely accurate. Perhaps I would fall under ‘questioning’, but let’s be honest here – most people don’t go beyond LGBT (let alone more complex options such as ‘LGBTTQQIAAP’ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual]). Being gender fluid I do identify more with male than female most of the time, but I’ve never felt I was in the wrong body as I’ve heard trans people describe, so that option is out. I’m confident that, were I male, there would still be times I felt my physical gender did not exactly align with who I am inside. Gay and Lesbian are also easily discarded as possible labels for myself, as are Intersex & Asexual. To confuse things even further, regardless of which acronym one uses, there are either multiple meanings of the letters and/or there is disagreement about what the letters stand for once you go beyond LGBT.
So, to be clear, I have no problem with anyone using LGBT. I personally use LGBTQIA because that’s the shortest acronym in which I feel like I could actually belong. Going back to my sexual orientation, at this point I guess pansexual is the best label I could pick at the moment? I started questioning this most recently when I was pursuing FetLife and noticed all these adds for cisgender women. What!? When did people start demanding someone have a specific gender identify on want ads???
I don’t reply to many ads on FL anyway, but I definitely would not respond to one asking for a cisgendered woman. While I am not trans and have no plans to alter my physical gender, I am definitely gender fluid. Do people really understand what they are asking when putting cisgendered in a want ad? I’ve slept with a lot of people, and none has ever asked me my gender identity first (or after, for that matter!). I realize that again this is perhaps a privilege I enjoy, but would my being gender fluid have prevented any of my sexual encounters? I honestly don’t believe it would have. Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps people are intentionally saying ‘No’ to people like me. But considering how new the widespread use of ‘cisgender’ is outside of the LGBTQIA community I find it more likely that people are using a term they don’t fully understand and, unfortunately, making me feel excluded even on a website created to cater to kinky people who I would think could identify with what it’s like to be ‘different’.
So, much as I did in the first half of the year, I recently decided to adopt another physical, visible symbol to in some small way defy the assumptions people make about me. I bought this beautiful ring on Amazon and, as with my BDSMblem, wear it proudly every day.
I’ve spent the entire year thinking about the mission I drafted, to live passionately, authentically, unapologetically. I’ve played around with countless other possibilities, but I keep coming back to this one. It’s not a mission I openly share, but I am expressing it in small ways. Choosing to own the fact that I am different, even if doing so quietly. I’m effectively hiding in the closet in so many ways and sometimes it feels suffocating. But, I stand by the choices I’ve made. Were I to be out about being polyamorous, gender fluid and pansexual I simply wouldn’t have the things I have. My husband would not be willing to live with me being open about things he feels are deeply private. Before anything else, I choose H. I choose to share my life with him, learn from him, love him. I choose H every single day, and I’ve never regretted it. Next, I chose my profession. I love my job, and after nine months I am confident I have found my career. I want this, which likely would also not be compatible with me being totally open about who I am.
Perhaps ‘acceptance’ is too strong a word, but I understand how and why my choices have put me where I am in life. I am so grateful for the love and happiness I have; my life is not perfect, but I have so much more than I’ve ever had before. My health is getting better controlled all the time. I love and am loved by so much family, something I always longed to feel in the hell that was my youth. I am growing and changing; it’s often difficult, but I come out liking myself more and feeling more at peace. I used to feel nothing but hate for myself, not really that many years ago. Look at me now! I’m still trying to find myself, understand myself, make good choices and be happy. But my mission supports all of this I do believe.
It’s time to begin a new year, take on new challenges…and I’m ready!
I continue to choose to live…