I’m about to go get a few passport-sized photographs taken. I think it’s about the right time to renew my passport and national ID card. I thought of getting a professional picture taken for my new CV to – a requirement here, you see: letting hiring managers put a face to the name/application. I’m somewhat unsure about whether to do this right now though. Against all friendly and professional advice, I spotted braids and an Ankara dress in my last one. Having discussed the issue of “how to wear my hair” on my CV with a close friend today, however, I am still undecided of whether or not to wear my current kinky twists (thought to be dreadlocks), braids, my (own) hair, or a wig. I’ll give myself some time to think.
My black sisters will understand my predicament here..
Anyway, the last time I cried was during a mentoring session a couple of days ago. These mentoring sessions – that is, the coaches running them – come as part of the project management course I’ve had the privilege of undertaking these past weeks. It’s a course lasting for ten weeks in total and I feel tremendously blessed for having been granted the opportunity to get on it.
So, a couple of days ago (Monday, to be precise) I sat there, right in front of my coach – discussing the changes I had made to my already updated CV (it was my second session, mind you) – reflecting. There were tears in my eyes.
Yes, you’ve certainly given me something to think about..
was my response to his question of why I had chosen to almost totally exclude my (close to two) decades of volunteering experience. What was it I felt so unsure about? Sure, I had to know it counted just as much as “work experience” as any other job listed on my impressive CV.
I avoided his eyes. I paused. I started thinking..
It was his compassionate look and relaxed stance that made me aware of the tears rolling down my cheeks.
I don’t really know..
and I continued on thinking aloud..
It’s difficult being a Christian, you know, openly, that is. People judge you. People have judged me – both privately and professionally. Not that I mind being judged for having certain beliefs; I just don’t think that necessary within the workplace. I’d rather be judged based on my skills, qualifications, performance. Heck, I’d like to get as far as receiving a call for an interview alone! Seeing too much charitable work might scare hiring managers off. I haven’t ever gotten positive remarks for it, you see. People are usually a bit sceptical.
He didn’t quite get what I was saying and prompted me to go on explaining. Encouraging me to look deep within, he wanted me to shed more light on what precisely was bothering me. Was there an inner conflict? Having discussed issues of integrity and my involvement in social change/actions, he did not quite see how this could be perceived in any other light but one that shone bright.
No one minds you having certain opinions, or taking certain actions – that is, until they realize they are linked to something somewhat religious or faith-based. As long as your opinions and beliefs stem from self, the environment, politics, society, they are good and acceptable; they are yours. But as soon as you declare allegiance to a Higher Being, I find, people take you less seriously, consider you narrow-minded, some would even go as saying “brainwashed” or “manipulated”. People tend to take you less seriously. Especially in this environment. It’s easier if you don’t believe – culturally and societally. As someone who believes, get ready to be challenged continuously.
He held his chin. But surely Christianity was widely accepted – it was the bedrock of our society, he reminded me. Renaissance, our legal system, our social system.. none of these would exist without Christianity. He himself, he shared, was an Atheist, but he had a deep respect for Christianity. He did not see why I would want to hide my love for God, my relationship with Him, and how my love for Him and His love for me caused me to act, to do certain things, to extend my hand of faith, of love.
I looked at him, surprised at how much he understood. My tears now flowing freely..
I am not ashamed. Not in the least. I just don’t want to make things unnecessarily complicated, difficult for myself in a professional sense. They’ll figure out who I am and what I stand for soon enough, I’m sure of that.. There’s just no need for rubbing it in. Being a young black professional in Vienna can be so difficult. You might not understand but I constantly stand out. I constantly have to prove myself – almost on a daily basis. It’s exhausting, it’s tiring. But being black is something I cannot hide, it is all over me. I’m not trying to hide my faith.. I’m just trying to not give people too large an area to attack. Those battles – based on principles and morals – will have to be fought soon enough..
He smiled. Let them know who you are. Let them know what you stand for. It is an asset, it is a blessing, it is something to be proud of. It is you. If a company, with all your skills, qualifications, experience and integrity does not want to hire you, you should be glad for it. That’s no company you should want to work for anyway. It would not be a company that would appreciate all you have to give, not a company you would flourish in, not a company that deserves you or should have you.
I really don’t know whether I was just being hormonal but his kind words (yes, you guessed it) made me cry even more. I asked for some tissue.
And I requested for some more time to think too..
The thing is, I really wasn’t lying or exaggerating. I really was tired. Just two weeks prior I hab been heavily confronted about my Christian beliefs – faith, repentance, sexual purity – my hypocrisy (since I was/am no virgin). I bore no ill feelings towards her, but I found it surprising how much more understanding, aware and tolerant/accepting I was of her decision to go all out exploring, than she was of my decision to be abstinent, to not give myself away (anymore), to trust and wait.
But beyond that, however, – in her pushing the issue and refusing to simply let it go – I now realize how longing she truly was: how what she truly craved were answers, a calm to her inner storm; how – in challenging me – she was really only looking for clarity, within herself. The conflict hadn’t actually been between the two of us, it was a conflict raging within.
Today, in reflecting, I realize just how important it really is for me to share my faith, my beliefs, me. Not just for my sake, but for the sake of others.
Having told him I wrote and published blog posts, my coach encouraged me to include a link to this blog on my CV. After-all, hiring managers did care to read about their potential employees’ hobbies – especially if they followed a red thread. Since I wrote about life, love and God, I said, I wasn’t too sure whether or not to: I didn’t want to appear overly passionate.
But, truth be told, I AM. So heck, why not?