I’ve had a tonne of career advice over the years – be the first one into the office and the last to leave; work hard, do not complain; don’t wear that; just be yourself; stop being so…like yourself, try to fit in; do this course/get that qualification; put yourself forward; don’t be pushy; and… “you should smile more”.
The people proffering the advice have varying degrees of credibility. I think, as a general rule, it’s ok to ignore advice from anyone who couldn’t make money running a casino. But also, I have an aversion to receiving pep talks from a bunch of privileged well-paid people who’ve been able to outsource the running of their households, had access to flexible daycare and leveraged intergenerational connections to people that have a direct influence on their careers.
The advice has been pretty useless, and relentless. Hence why I am hesitant to go to anymore ‘women in business’ focused events. It’s too frustrating and makes no difference.
The following poem was inspired by a conversation I had with my then-manager after I’d attended a “Women Can Do Anything” talk-fest.
Distorted career advice See through the silence. Hear past the distance. Feel alive, be present. Lean in, Slink in. The choice could be yours To open or close every door. Negotiating paradoxes, Escaping crude boxes, Juggling who you are, What you do, hide your scars! Jumping through hoops Running in loops. Too smart, too pushy Too hard, too cushy Too old, too young Not enough allocates won. Not well enough connected, Has interests (conflicted). Too short, too tall. Come on! Have it all. Keep the faith. Maintain your pace. Go once more for gold Use your woo, go for bold! Lean in. Slink in It doesn't really matter how hard you try Because the advice is a distracting lie: They won't let you join the club Go back to your place, "there there cherub".