Do you ever feel like the work other people do is more important? More impressive? More impactful?
Like everyone around you is involved with some really gobsmackingly amazing stuff. Really contributing to something tangible and better. And you’re kind of on the periphery?
Maybe you don’t feel like this all the time, but there are days…
If so, this post is for you.
So I’m sitting in a bar in Truro. There’s another 4 women in the room. All of whom work in sustainability in Cornwall. We’re at the 3rd meet-up for a meet-up group I set up specifically for women working in sustainability in Cornwall. The first two meetings were fun, inspiring, bustling and the room was full. Great.
Great on a few counts.
- because I wanted to create a space where women could get together. Share challenges and be in person with each other.
- (and this is the real crux for me) because the group is fun and people are coming along to play, I get to be there and meet people without having to be frontline. Instead I can do what I do best – I can shrink into the background and just enjoy.
So when there were just 5 of us the other day, I have to be honest I felt a little uncomfortable. I don’t like being the centre of attention much less in a group of people. I’m an introvert in that sense. And having people waiting on me or expecting something from me feels really friggin’ uncomfortable. Like I have to be something I’m not.
As there were only a few of us, and because I’m the person who set up the group, (for some unknown reason!) people like to hear from me.
So back to the night of the 3rd meet-up and I’m clutching my drink as one woman sitting across the room from me says “so Joey tell us a bit more about you and why you’re here?”
My inner fraud
What happens next is I hear myself telling them that honestly I feel like a bit of a fraud to be in this group of amazing women doing some truly incredible things. I go on to say that as long as I can remember I’ve cared about the environment and some form of sustainability. Then 2 years ago I moved to Cornwall and became a coach. So although I work with women who work in sustainability I don’t really feel like I am working directly in sustainability work anymore. I’m sort of sitting there keeping quiet, enjoying being in the company of these fabulous people, but secretly wondering how long it will be until they find me out”
Which is when Klaudia pitches in:
“I really don’t agree. You’re working with people who work in sustainability. You are frontline. You help them and support them. What I heard next (although I don’t know whether she said it or I imagined it) was “your work is essential”.
This is not about trumpet blowing!
I am totally NOT telling you this to blow my own trumpet or feel self important. I’m telling you because her affirmation and recognition really made a difference for me. It made me see through other eyes for a minute. And it immediately took away a chunk of my fraudism. It also made me feel supported and like I was in the right place.
About seeing the amazingness in the work you do
And I wanted to share that with you because I think we all need support and recognition of the work we do. Working in sustainability is tough whatever your role is in whatever kind of organisation: The work we do has no end, it’s emotionally draining, it’s beautiful, it’s a rollercoaster, it’s vulnerable and powerful, and it’s necessary and insanely time pressured. But it is, above all, incredible and completely ESSENTIAL work. And I’ve no doubt that each and every person reading this post makes a difference, in whatever form, that is more profound than they will ever know.
And that’s what I wanted to get across. That what I learnt that night, was that I am a part of something, a bigger picture, and so are you. Every single person in that picture is essential and has a part in this play. And it’s not about someone doing something more important or inspiring we need as many people to do as much as we can and everyone that contributes is amazing. So basically…
You’re part of something truly wonderful and inspiring
(Like the humble primrose, the humble sustainability worker does beautiful, essential work. Singularly incredible. Collectively wonderous).
And it’s so necessary to know how much we bring to this – our value and our energy and time and passion.
Over to you
So, continuing with the theme of spreading the word and supporting one another, do you know someone who does really wonderful work, makes a beautiful difference, and almost never recognises the power of what they’re achieving?
If so, please share this post with them.
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