Friday, November 2, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 2: You, the Personal and the Professional

Last week, I came out at work as "adopted / in reunion." A strange thing to come out as at work, I know. But, when my boss asked me to give him a bio about me so he could introduce me to the organization...well, it's a big part of who I am.  

How much of ourselves should we allow to be exposed at work? Should we be our authentic selves (the people we are with our friends), or should we be "professional?" 

I realized it was when I worked at a social-work agency that I was the most polarized about my openness in my adoption and reunion at work. On one hand, I felt that if I didn't talk about it, I was being secretive. After all, I was newly in reunion with my birth mom and when someone would ask how things were going, I would want to tell them. But, more often than not, it became more of a conversation than what I wanted to go into. I wanted to talk about it as a real experience, but I felt like too many listeners wanted to turn it into a soap-opera-style drama, so I stopped talking about it.

But when I was laid off from that job and my co-workers threw me a goodbye party at a local bar, I invited Kate to come. My co-workers told me I could invite anyone I wanted to - that it was a party for me and I should have whoever I wanted there. 

When Kate came in and I greeted her and she sat down at our table, my co-workers looked at me for an introduction. I said, "This is my birth mother, Kate," and then introduced everyone at the table to Kate. 

While everyone at the table tried to just go along as if it was no big deal, one person followed me away from the table when I was on my way to the bathroom and asked if I had just introduced that person as my "birth-mother." 

"Yes," I said, rolling my eyes a little, worried that I was going to have to go into the whole long story, but just when I started describing it, she jumped in and said she had just met her birthmother too. And, ever since that day, she has been an amazing friend and someone who could really hear and understand all I was going through - without turning it into a made-for-TV-movie. So, by being open with co-workers about being adopted, I made a life-long friend. 

So now, almost twenty years later, I just come out with it - it's part of who I am. And, if people are ask me about it now, I don't mind, and I don't bother to feel pressured to make it into something that it's not. I've learned that it's important to share my story. When people ask about it, I no longer see them as looking for the drama, but just see that they are looking. 

And, as for being professional at work, now that I work in a school of government, I've stepped it up a bit, as you can tell from my picture from work on Halloween...

by Cathy Heslin of ReunionEyes...Kathleen~Cathleen

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