All my life I’ve been a deep seated punk. When I started my career in PlayStation however I had to blend my image with what was more of a proper representation of the company. I couldn’t leave my house looking like a scrub/dressed in my favorite bondage pants since if I did, and saw an employee (not hard since I had over 100 stores) the image of the professional would be shattered. Seeing how gaining respect as a female gamer can be hard enough, I didn’t want anything to hurt my professional reputation.
This, as luck would have it, is right around the same time Against Me’s “Teenage Anarchist” came out. It was a song I could identify with immediately, I was looking for a revolution when I was young. I had the drive, I had the ambition, I always felt like I was in the middle of a class war, and ALWAYS wanted to light the world on fire.
The politics did get to convenient for me. Make money, and not a ton mind you, but make some and move up with a pretty amazing company, and do something I simply loved. But I did have to surrender my identity. I remember my boyfriend at the time getting so mad… He didn’t understand the changes I was going through. While he was a blue collar worker, he could still maintain the same image he always had since Jr High. It didn’t matter if he drew an anarchy symbol on his welding helmet. It didn’t matter if his tattoo’s were always visible. He could be whatever he wanted to be because no one had any expectations of him.
Myself however, as always, I felt like the weight of the world was on me. I had 100 stores I was responsible for. This meant I had to train the staff in all these stores, give information as it was allowed to be released, if the demo unit (interactive) broke down at 7pm, it was my responsibility to take the call and either get to them that night, or the next day. My phone because glued to my side, my laptop was always running. I had conference calls at 6am since Toronto is so far ahead. Now those, I loved. I could roll out of bed, wearing nothing but my NOFX pj shirt and plug my X-Box headset into my home phone and listen to what the plan was for the next little while.
Secretly, I had always wanted to be the professional woman kicking ass and taking names. Surpassing all her male counterparts and showing them how things got done. But as a punk/geek, no one ever took me seriously. In order to make it I had to reinvent myself. It didn’t mean when I was home I wasn’t blasting Social Distortion to the point the neighbors would come knocking since their kids were coming home soon. But I was becoming two completely different people. The professional and the punker.
When I found out I was pregnant three years into my career, life changed again obviously. I ended up leaving my job behind of my own choosing to live closer/with Logan, and actually turned down the chance to move back to my home area to be close with him. At that moment I wasn’t aware I was pregnant, but I had been in love with him for so long before we got together I would have moved heaven and earth to stay with him.
While Logan completely embraces my punk side, I tossed it away thinking that is not how a Mom is. For a long time when I was pregnant I went through a major identity crisis. I had given up my job, which had defined me for so long, I stopped playing video games and focused on reading all the parenting books etc, and just… Changed. Changed to what I thought an expectant Mom should be. I didn’t want to live in the small town we do, have the wild red hair and have all the locals think I was some young dumb creature. I still listened to my favorites, but it felt like I was someone else. No one had any expected anything of me, but I felt like the baby did. While I wanted to have a little punk princess I wanted to be the wholesome Mom. The one who baked cookies and helps with homework. Not the one with tattoos who’s daughters friends parents didn’t really like.
I didn’t really understand what changes I was going through until I watched “The Other F Word” a while after my daughter was born. I loved it, and also felt so ashamed of myself for giving up who I was so many different times.
We can be who we want to be, and still be wives, mothers, employees, friends and neighbors. We don’t need to lose sight of who we are to be who we want to do what we want. While you can’t force the world to accept you, you can tweak things to stay true to yourself and also be a professional/mom/whatever. I wish I had realized that before, but while all these changes were going on I also had a major problem with depression and couldn’t see the forest through the trees. Sure you can’t wear bondage pants to a meeting, but you can still be yourself, express yourself and be a professional.
In the end I’ve turned from a Punk Rock Prom Queen to more of a mellow geekgasm type of girl. Again it defines me and I love that… It’s how I met the love of my life and soul mate, it’s how we ended up with an amazing daughter. It’s how I got the PlayStation job in the first place… Maybe it’s come with age and wisdom, and maybe it’s come from self discovery. You give up your soul till you break down, but when you break down you can rebuild using the parts of your life you want to. When I was young and dumb, like any teenager, I did many things I would rather not remember. But those things broke me down to build me back up. You cant have the good without the bad… You can’t grow if all you see is perfection, then you simply grow content. Adversity, even internal adversity, helps a person grow.
When it feels like the weight of the world is crushing you, and you are finally sinking to your knees… That’s when you gain strength. That’s when you gain the courage and conviction to keep fighting, keep pushing just to simply avoid being crushed. That’s when you discover who you really are.