It also spurred a comment that would effectively dull my shine for seven years.
You see, a woman leading the agency took me out to lunch. We went to Frontera and I remember it was far enough away that we needed to drive. I was still newish to the agency and Chicago and I remember gazing through her sunroof at the tall buildings, trying to not lose my shit and say something dumb, while also being like I CANNOT BELIEVE I’M GOING TO A FAR AWAY LUNCH WITH AN EXECUTIVE WHAT IS THIS LIFE?
In short, I wanted to be her when I grew up, so having this kind of access to her knowledge and wisdom was unreal to me.
When I got back, either that same day or later that week, my assigned mentor (different person) said to me:
“If you want to make friends, perhaps you should tone it down.”
She was referring to my open, public, effusive gratitude for the opportunities I had been presented. She was referring to my list. She was referring to me asking for what I want and receiving.
And so for the next seven years, I did tone it down.
I slowed up on my writing because who the fuck wants to read the words of a 20-something exploring PR & Marketing? Or the transition from college to corporate? Who was I to think my stories were worth sharing?I toned down my personality to fit in and not shine too bright because
And so for the next seven years, I did tone it down.I slowed up on my writing because who the fuck wants to read the words of a 20-something exploring PR & Marketing? Or the transition from college to corporate? Who was I to think my stories were worth sharing?
I toned down my personality to fit in and not shine too bright because I toned down my personality to fit in and not shine too bright because apparently, my sheer existence was threatening to my career and others.
My assigned mentor was the one who would advocate for me when it came to promotions and raises and other opportunities, so I quickly redesigned myself to fit into a mold of a person worth advocating for.
I stopped asking to come to brainstorms, stopped putting myself out there, stopped being engaged.
For the last seven years, I’ve been a shell of myself, the young, eager, thirsty spitfire of a woman who wanted to be the President of that agency when she grew up, because she saw it was possible for a woman to have that job. I shoved her in the not-really-a-closet-but-kind-of-a-hallway in my little studio apartment, leaving her in the dark.
In Paris, she came back.
The past few weeks have been an intense unraveling (thank you Staci) of what happened in Paris and how I can integrate Paris Sydney back into the Shell of True Sydney I’ve been rocking with for the past seven years.
I’m reclaiming the Sydney who had the courage to ask for what she wants.
I’m reclaiming the Sydney who is ALL IN on her career and unashamed of it.
I’m reclaiming my shine.
I’m reclaiming my boundaries around (and agency over) my time and talent.
And next weekend, when I turn 32, I’ll be giving 2010 Sydney a nod as I raise a glass of champagne. Her unapologetic essence has been clawing to get out and she saw the light this week.
So basically, I’m back.
Taking up more space.
Sporting some laugh lines.
Riding through grief of losing more than 15 friends or family members in the last 7 years.
Married to the most amazing man on the planet.
More compassionate, empathetic.
Rooted in love, all about justice.
Hello, my name is Sydney Owen Williams. Nice to meet you!