A colleague is too colorful for my taste. I grew up in a smalltown setting, and I was quite sheltered, but I like to think that my sensitivities have been vanishing with age and exposure to a cruder world. I am not there yet. Today, my colleague, in a group setting, made crude remarks and compared an arrow to a phallus. It threw me off for a few minutes, and I could not contribute anything to the discussion afterward, torn as I was between the alienation of being a woman in a man’s world and my own inner conflict (am I too sensitive? shouldn’t everybody try to stick to a veneer of professionalism?). I brought this up with one of my other colleagues later. He explained this was only a cultural artifact and that it was common in that culture. I am still unsettled. It isn’t a major issue. In fact, looking back at my career, this is very, very trivial, and I don’t like to expend thought and time over the minutiae.
The overarching questions, albeit personal ones, still stand. How much effort will I have to put in to continue to stay calm and productive in this setting? How much of my unsettlement is regarding the prevalent situation in the industry versus my own sensitivities? Throughout my engineering education and career, it has been a difficult path to keep the parts of myself that I value highly – my femininity, my fairness, my compassion, my kindness, and my resilience against bitterness and anger. I had promised myself that I would manage to do that, before I had embarked on this journey. I try to stay mindful of that promise. It is difficult, on some days, as this one. Tomorrow will, perhaps, be easier.
It is true that my focus is intensely personal, and perhaps always has been. I am not equipped emotionally to fight for a cause, for social justice, for ideas or ideologies. What I believe in is faithfully reflected in my writing. That medium is comfortable for me. It requires strength, since it is a baring of my thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. It is easier, for me, in that it puts a screen of detachment between me and you, and that allows for bravery.
(It is on days like this, when I feel isolated; an alien, an imposter, an outsider – that I wish I had a hyacinth once more to turn to. Love was no solution, certainly, but it was a palliative that I gratefully drunk of.)
Yosemite was deserted. It was beautiful. I climbed cliffs high, and walked through tree-tunnels, and above me was autumnal foliage of yellows and reds. Merced river wound through the valley, fed fat by waterfalls pouring down the gorges in the rocks upon which I stood.
My body is sore and complains incessantly. Walking that cathedral of nature was worth the pain.