“Oh, Sweetie…”

“What did they mean by that?” ever find yourself asking this question?

the answer? “Probably not what you think they meant.”


So here’s the scenario: You’re talking to your mom about your recent online-dating streak and you rant a little about the beard-obsessed dude, and the guy that never texted you back after a charming first date, and if you’re like me and my mom, you tell her about the guy who asked for tit-pics and called you a bitch for ignoring him (more about this another time). After you cynically and sarcastically finish cursing the dating pool, your mom sighs heavily and says something along the lines of: “You know, you’ve always been a handful, that might be why you’re single.”

Ouch. That stings.

But you laugh it off and say something like “yeah, I know, but the right guy will be able to handle me!” (which is true) and then you change the subject or if you’re me, you’d make a joke about your double-Ds being more than a handful, and any guy’d be lucky to have you. But there is that search party for truth gearing up in the back of your mind, nagging, “Why’d she say that? Am I THAT bad? I told the guy I liked his beard, and I didn’t even get drunk or opinionated on that charming first date.”

Sucks, right?

You know those little digs, or “tips” or “oh hunny”s. You’ve heard them, and I bet it hurt worse than when you realized you were never going meet and marry Leo DiCaprio or Tom Brady. We all say them sometimes with out thinking, sometimes they are said out of concern, and meant to be a tip, or helpful hint, but they are oh, so misplaced so I have learned.

So here is another one… if you’ve ever been rejected, this one is going to bring back some terrible memories of college boyfriends and stupid crushes, so if your current mental state has been weakened lately from an endless winter and unrequited OKC likes, you might want to sit this one out….

back in college I started talking again to a guy I used to know and had a crush on in my high school days, we were always friendly and in the same circles, and after high school we just sort of didn’t ever see each other until one day something came along that changed the world forever: AIM and Facebook. So we reconnected through the interwebz and it went on for a few months and one night he had said that he was attracted to me and I was always attracted to him so I then casually told him I had been enjoying our talks and suggested that maybe we should go on a date sometime when I was back in town if he felt the same. He did not respond with “That’s nice of you to ask, but I’m not looking to date right now” or “Sorry if I gave the wrong impression, but I really just like being friends.” Hell, I would have preferred: “I can’t, I have to help my friend move, and then I have to take my dog to the vet, and my mom says I can’t date until I’m 40, also I’m moving to Australia and the time difference might be a problem.” but instead I got this:

“Heather, don’t be one of those girls who thinks too much, guys don’t like that.”

Should he have dated me? No, it’s ok to say you don’t want to date someone and I respect that, and I have even got quite good at it myself. I know now (after getting a better understanding of what college age guys want) that he was never looking for a relationship, only someone to flirt with and talk with and…other-things with. He never meant to hurt me with saying that but he did whether he knew it or not. That little sentence fucked me up worse than the 3 Twisted Teas and shot of Schnapps I used to drown that college-age misery.

Is rejection a part of life? Absolutely, and I can handle that and understand that it is inevitable and you get over it. However, his words made me feel ashamed. I was sure that I must be a crazy person and had done something wrong, that maybe he was right. Was asking someone to go on a date because we enjoyed talking and laughing together “thinking too much”? It made me feel like I was discrediting my gender. It made me feel like I was not worthy of his, or any dude’s attention. It made me feel silly for ever thinking “a guy like him would ever want a girl like me”. fucked up, right? Shit, where’s the schnapps?

I have long since then, ditched the naive, low self-esteem, no-one-will-ever-love-me mindset, and I know now that I’m fucking awesome. I don’t need a guy to tell me what I should change about myself to be more appealing to them. I know now that not everyone is looking for the same things in relationships, sex, life, love, and that is ok, heck, I even celebrate differences like that!

using that revelation to look back at that interaction, He was just disappointed that I wasn’t just DTF and had feelings that he didn’t understand and I misread his “advances” for something more romantic. That is all. nothing more, nothing less. I’m at peace with stuff like that now, and I wish I could go back and slap my hopeless-romantic self out of clouds.

I think sometimes those little sayings, and “tips” are a reflection of someone’s own insecurities and skewed perception of beauty or what is acceptable in society. (or maybe they are just jealous of your dashing good looks.)

Ladies, ever go to Char Russe or H&M and find that perfect dress or body-hugging sweater, or jeans that make you shake-it shake-it in the dressing room? Yeah you do it, don’t lie. Feels good right? Made a decision, looking good, feeling sassy, so you wear it to a family function or to your best friend’s dinner party and they say something prefaced by “oh, hunny/sweetie/guuuurl…” and it usually goes something like this: “Isn’t that kind of tight? what size did you get?… I bet it would look better in the next size up.”  I bet, instead, you heard: “Just because you lost 15 lbs doesn’t mean you’re ready for a swimsuit modeling career, damn bitch, cover yo’ shit up, you’re giving yourself too much credit!”


now, now…before you slap a bitch, you have to believe me when I say they were really trying to protect you and make you aware of how people might perceive you based on how they perceive the world.  They assume that, like themselves, you care what other people think. Your mom/sister/friend is saying that they don’t want people thinking you look “fat” or don’t respect yourself or that you have bad fashion sense (god-forbid). They said it to help. They said it hoping that you would consider SOMEONE ELSE’S opinion because that is what society tells us to do. “Be skinny, be tan, do your makeup, buy the newest clothes, dress to impress!”

It took me FOREVER to learn that most people (especially the ones you care about) don’t mean to say things in a way that leaves you mentally crumbled on the floor sobbing and looking around desperately for any remaining shards of your shattered dignity.

Is it hard not to take things personally? So hard. But is it freeing when you finally grasp the concept? 100%, life changing-ly, YES.

What is the best way to change your attitude? think before YOU speak and then see how hard it is to not say something snotty, rude, or downright assuming. We are all guilty. I’m a bitch, (really!). Sometimes its because I’m so caught up in my own feelings I forget others have feeling too.

Here it is:

The next time you feel the need to offer unsolicited fashion advice about what your friend is wearing, don’t. Or try, “Hey, I love that color on you, where’d you get it?” and the next time you want to tell your sister that she is freaking crazy and that she will die alone if she doesn’t knock off half of her 58 point checklist of the perfect husband, (even if you’re probably right, because lets face it, she’s looking for no kids, nice car, own house, good job, 6’2″, funny, smart, AND good looking and we single ladies know that he’s already married.) JUST DON’T. Instead say “It must be so hard for you to wait for the right one to come along… lets drink wine.” Then… you drink all of the wine and drunkenly Tinder.

Then maybe, just maybe, the next time your mom/sister/friend says something that makes you want to wear an over-sized burlap sack for the rest of your miserable existence as to hide any flaws you’ve been made to believe that you have, rewind, find your shake-it-shake-it place, be there, stay there. Maybe you’ll even have the courage someday to say “I like the way I look in these jeans, and sweetie, that is all that really matters to me!”


Just a Secretary

A few months ago I was on lunch and found myself at Shaw’s so I could grab a salad and a bag of chips. I’m at the checkout when the young-20-something male bagger noticed my work name badge and asked what I do for work. “I’m a secretary.” So begins what I’m sure he meant to be a cordial interaction.

“Ooooh, so you’re a secretary huh?” he says with a creepy smile and smugness.

“Yes, I work up the road at a medical practice.” I say to him trying to show as little interest for this conversation as possible without being rude.

“So like, what? You bring the doctors their coffee?” He says, laughing and looking around to see if anyone thinks he is as funny as he thinks he is. Usually in years past I would have quipped with something like “No I just answer the phones.” and then laugh at myself with him. This time however, I felt that sting, and heard the degrading connotation and it fueled a need for a response that would rendered him embarrassed, speechless, or maybe even angry.

I looked him right in the eye, and pleasantly proclaimed, “No, actually the doctor buys me coffee, and I manage his schedule, and his patient’s insurance claims so that he gets paid. I also work 10 hour days and make sure that we have all the supplies needed to run the practice, as well as answering phones. Oh, and I don’t need a bag for those.” I then curtly smiled, took my receipt and walked away feeling somewhat proud of standing up for my position and worth.

that feeling lasted a few seconds because then the questions start rolling in my mind: Is that what people think a secretary does? Bring people coffee? (as a side note, coffee is not a joke or something to take lightly, so if there is someone bringing/serving you coffee, they are an important person and deserve your respect!) Maybe the title he was looking for was a “waitress.”  That brings up a whole different issue of political correctness, which I will save for another post at a later date. Quickly though, I’m technically SUPPOSED to be called an “Administrative Professional” and Waitress/Waiter should be “Wait Staff” or “Server”, and the bagger that assumed I was a waitress should be called a “Customer Service Associate.” (side note: I used to be a bagger when I was in high school. It’s not an easy job and it is more than bagging groceries, so I am in no way, downplaying the importance/need of his job.)

Was I threatening him in some way that he felt the need to try and belittle me in front of others to feel bigger, better, faster, stronger? Did he think that he was God’s gift to women in that green polo and apron, and that I would be flattered by his interest in my lowly career? Did he truly just not understand that a secretary isn’t a personal servant? I don’t know, and I only slightly care, because I get that response a lot when I tell people, especially men, that I’m a secretary. (I tried telling people that I was an administrative assistant for a while, but they would just laugh and say “So you’re a secretary?” [eye-roll]).

Do I KNOW now that I’m more than just a secretary? Yes. My actual title with my company is Secretary Supervisor Senior. I know the job I do is important to my staff and to our patients. I understand the demand for someone who can answer phones, book appointments, and deal with a belligerent patient who doesn’t understand why their insurance isn’t covering the cost of their services. Do I wear a pencil skirt and heels? You bet.  Do I supervise others with compassion, and order Office-Max like a boss, and file faxes in a perfected folder system? Of course. Do others see it this way? Rarely. Because “I’m just a secretary.”

I used to be guilty of saying that phrase when I first started as a secretary with out supervisor skills. I don’t know if it was my own confidence lacking, society’s view on women in the work place, or what I let others tell me I was subconsciously, but I referred to myself as “just the secretary” when people asked me about what I did. Sometimes if I was on the phone with a patient and they would ask me a clinical question, I would respond with “I wouldn’t know that, I’m just the secretary.” I never found any harm in this and I never thought twice about this until one day my Practice Manager was visiting and overheard me say this. After I hung up with the patient, she poked her head around my desk partition and gave me a very stern look. I could feel myself shrink, knowing I was about to be “talked to” about something… but then she said something that I will always remember, and I credit it as a turning point in how I view my own and other’s worth and value.

“You are not JUST a secretary! So you don’t have medical knowledge?  That means you’re NOT a doctor but you ARE a secretary, and that is JUST as important.”

coming from a professional, powerful, confident, woman, her words really spoke to me. It made me think about what that phrase really conveyed to others and how I let them view me and how I viewed myself before. I was basically saying, “Heather, lets be serious… you’re a secretary, you do the most cliched women’s-job there is, you sit around answering phones, taking messages, and filing papers all day, big deal? No one cares. You’re not a nurse, or a teacher, or a business woman… you’re just a secretary.”

Now I know that I’m more than my job title. I’m more than what society thinks I should be, I decide what I do, and I choose to be a secretary because I love my job. I get to help people everyday and those people respect me and I respect them. I’m lucky to have a great office to work in.

I’ve decided to “take back” the word “secretary.”  I decided to name my blog “I’m Just a Secretary” because it reminds me of what state of mind I came from, and maybe others will identify with it and read something that changes their minds about the way we think about others and ourselves.

We are all not JUST anything. You ARE. I AM. And that is important.

But what do I know? I’m Just a Secretary!