I am female. So of course, I’m small. But that I’ve played small most of my life, I can only conclude it was my choice.
When attending my high school class reunion, a couple of years ago at Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto, I was quite taken aback to see where the males in the class had gotten to, and where the females. With only one exception, the women were all in the helping professions – nurses, teachers, admin assistants. And with no exceptions the men were all in “the professions” – doctors, lawyers, dentists, CEO’s, entrepreneurs. And they looked it. Their backs were straighter, suits more expensive, their smiles were broader – they all looked like as if it was where they belonged. They’d shot harder, arrived higher, and achieved more. Hmm! I only noticed that in retrospect, but the difference really was blatant.
Me? Well, I was in a teaching profession. Now the impression that I had of ‘what was expected’ and ‘what was allowed’ at that time. I thought the road was completely open in any direction that you wanted, male or female. Evidently that wasn’t true. Sure no one would have told a teenager in 65 ‘hey, don’t get so high nosed, you’re actually restricted to just the helping professions like housekeeping, nursing, teaching’.
It would have been shocking to hear that. But hell, it was true. A woman’s world was still restricted to children and home first. Jobs were not primary considerations; they were always secondary or only of necessity. In 65, you would still easily hear ‘oh you’re looking for a sugar daddy’. It was still considered the easy road through life and your first choice.
When I was in university attending a European frat party I was asked by a high ranking, well respected physician “Are you going for your M.R.S” with a smirk. It took me a while to recover from the questions and the assumption, but he meant it. Women were still commonly seen at universities on a man hunt.
So, playing it small made sense in that kind of universe. Maybe it’s time I allowed myself to take off the shackles and grow up.