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I am a “Go-Getter”

Laura Berenstain, MD explains why words we choose matter.

I am a “go-getter”. I was recently told that by someone about to offer me a job.

Words are powerful and I was a little taken aback. WHAT???

It didn’t sound like a compliment, but more like a personality defect that they would tolerate but had to acknowledge.

Does that mean I can be…what? Intense? Intimidating? Too ambitious?

“Well, Laura, you know, you’re quite a go-getter.”

Why not say “You’ve really accomplished a lot in the last few years. We’d love to have you join our group – you’d be a real asset.” That would have left me with an entirely different feeling, a positive one.

 

Here’s what I wonder: would he have said that to a man? Somehow it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing one man would say to another as part of a job offer.

“Hey, Fred, you know, you’re quite the go-getter.”

 

Here’s what I wonder: would he have said that to a man? Somehow it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing one man would say to another as part of a job offer. “Hey, Fred, you know, you’re quite the go-getter.” Click To Tweet

 

So, then, what DID it mean? If you meant that I am hard-working and ambitious, why not use those words?

In the end, what mattered most was that it made me feel OTHER. Like I’m not okay. An acceptable risk, but still, not quite 100%. Someone who needs watching so they don’t run amok and get out of control.

 

It brings me back to my favorite theme: BELONGING. For those who haven’t struggled with it, perhaps it’s hard to understand how disabling it is over time to feel that you don’t truly fit in. In offering that one qualifying sentence just before the offer, he created the impression that I would be tolerated but left me doubting that I would be unconditionally accepted. And at this point in my life, I want it all: I want to work with people who respect and like me for who I am.

My days of worrying about whether I fit into the proper mold are over. I want to celebrate the fact that it’s okay to be me, imperfect as I am. That’s something we all deserve.  You don’t have to be my best friend, but please respect me for who I am and accept that yes, I HAD to be a go-getter to reach this place. It wasn’t easy. For a long time I didn’t think it would happen. I own it. I fought for it.

Accept me for who I am. I accept you.

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