Three years ago, as my dream was spiraling apart I started writing a book. I started jotting down notes about micro aggressions without knowing what the term micro aggressions or gaslighting even was. I was desperately trying to hold onto sanity as my leaders, who I thought were my mentors, were telling me to be less passionate, to care less, to try less, to just sit back and let the project fall apart, and that surely, a vacation would fix this disaster.
I held back the tears and noted down their comments. I tried to write down everything because I had the vague sense that everything that was happening was absolutely insane even though they told me that I was the crazy one (side note: that is the definition of gaslighting… they make you feel like you are the crazy one so you begin to believe that everything that happened never happened).
They sent me letters with empty threats to send lawyers after me if I talked openly about what happened. They did not want the international community to know that the esteemed organization had done some terrible stuff that I won’t mention because I don’t want to be threatened again.
All I wanted was to work with native maize farmers in rural Latin America, sit in my open plan office with my team of indigenous women and men colleagues who spoke different mayan languages to make sure we as a team represented the people we were working for and were as inclusive as possible for as many farmers as possible when we tried to conserve their native maize and their hillside mountain soils together with them in a participatory manner.
I was not trying to take power from anyone (my boss disagreed because he saw my attempt to do a phenomenal job in being an incredible project manager of a badass project that empowered women and indigenous people as a huge threat to his more, ummmm, how do I say this, mmmm....white man top down dictatorial style).
So that is how I started writing a book. Three years ago. I finished a good chunk as self-therapy to process the loss of my dream and the dream job that I quit that was the route to achieve that dream.
I found a new job that I thought could be the route to a modified version of the dream so I set my book aside. Why would I need the book if I had the job?
For a few months, I was moderately tame and calm and fine without my feminist rage book, but the dream nagged at the back of my brain. The book came back to surface as it became clear to me that my back up job plan was not my real dream. In addition, my boss asked me to work only 20 hours a week and, direct quote, “less efficient” because I was making him look bad when I worked to my full potential.
I sat in my office bored out of my mind and got back to work on my book. I finished the whole thing. I even looked up how to publish it, made a publishing plan, and the whole works.
I was too scared though. And I assumed I would fail. I saved that file and put it in the deep logs of the computer and got to work on other personal projects to start a social impact business with women in Guatemala (while living in Rwanda). Once I moved back to Mexico and Guatemala, I was always “too busy” to get this book back out and I figured I would find time eventually but a year and so later I never did.
Until now. Now it is time. An intense conversation with a friend and A LOT of crying on a street corner in Guatemala and WAM BAM BAM the book is back. This book has been a guiding light for me in my own career and I know that I am not the only lost soul in this world looking to use their passion and ambition and slapped down again and again by superiors.
I gave myself thirty days, because three years was already enough. Thirty days to bring the book baby into the world. I hope you find inspiration to set fear aside, to be the queen, to remember your dreams, and to set off on your own queen journey as well. Go forth queens!