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Friday, January 26, 2024

There's No Room For Modesty

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“Modesty is a learned adaptation. It’s stuck on like decals. As soon as life slams a modest person against the wall, that modesty will fall off faster than a G-string will fall off a stripper.” Maya Angelou quoted in her interview with Dawn Reiss in The Atlantic.

Well, in a conversation with a former colleague, my G-string fell off (although I am not a stripper and find G-Strings an unlikely undergarment). In a past professional capacity, I had the charge to create an innovative program that would address a systemic need and provide a measurable financial and human capital impact. Time for action. I immediately went to work, utilizing all of my ‘Jennifer Life Hacks’ which include community building, communication, strategizing, empowering, and execution to address what my organization had identified as the ‘Elephant in the Room’.

I navigated uncharted territories with little direction and even less resources, yet my work yielded great results. Fast forward to this past week and I learn that the process to address the issue was not sustained and, even worse, my reputation regarding the work had been tarnished. I must admit that I was deflated and wanted to go on a rampage.

However, I decided to explore where that hurt and humiliation was rooted. Leaders also need counsel. I sought wise counsel and was reminded of the role that modesty plays in the career development (or lack there of) for women and especially women of color. Rev. Arionne Williams, my chaplain and friend, helped me to understand the historical roles that both the church and family play in helping women to ‘Be Seen and Not Heard’ and even in some cases to be ‘Be Invisible’.

Well, no more. As Maya Angelou eloquently delineated between humility and modesty, I realize that modesty has no place in my professional development and career. I will continue to relentlessly drive for results and will prominently acknowledge my success. This sets the framework for others to follow suit. I have a responsibility to share my narrative so that everyone watching has the courage to do the same.

I will do so with humility. I understand that someone before me paid and paved my way and I am paying and paving the way for those that come later.

Dr. Jennifer McChristian, LCSW

There's No Room For Modesty

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