Life Coaching Tip: As women, it takes insight, intention, and courage to unravel the systemic conditioning of the patriarchy meant to keep us quiet and small. But it’s absolutely possible to begin replacing old limiting beliefs with new beliefs that help us own our thrones and share our light with the world!
Here’s a weird thing to admit…
I’ve had the idea for this story for quite some time now, but I’ve been avoiding it.
I became curious about this today, and I asked myself “why?”.
Sadly, I think it’s because I STILL have some shame coming up about it – very mixed emotions.
And so, this is precisely why I’ve decided to write it.
Because I know, for sure, what I’m feeling is common for so many women.
And it’s my hope that if you can relate, you’ll know you’re not alone and will feel empowered to move through your discomfort and allow yourself to use your voice, take up space and fully show up in the world.
Here it is…
It was late in the spring of 2020, and my husband, Jerry, and I were struggling to find new, fun, AND safe things to do, thanks to the pandemic.
Boating seemed to be the perfect solution, and so when we learned our friends were selling their pleasure boat, we took it as a sign to forge ahead with our plans.
And it really was a lot of fun! There were so many new things to learn that were both interesting and challenging (in a good way), and being out on the gorgeous waters of Lake Erie that summer was both relaxing and delightful!
However, maintaining a safe distance from people during the height of the pandemic still proved to be a problem at times. Our boat was stored in an indoor rack facility at the marina, and the friendly dock workers there seemed to not have gotten the memo about social distancing.
And the restroom facilities at the marina were cramped and tight.
Fortunately, though, there was a mask mandate in place that helped me feel comfortable about using the facilities – a necessity after having a cocktail or two on the lake!
And so, this is where my story takes place…
One lazy August afternoon, before heading out for an excursion on the water, I slipped on my face mask and hurried into the restroom at the marina for a quick potty break.
As I was washing my hands, a young woman, likely in her mid-teens, came out of a bathroom stall and was coughing like crazy. Unfortunately, she was not wearing a mask.
I hurried to finish washing my hands, but as she came closer- still hacking away- there was no way for me to move away from the germs she was sharing with me in that tight space. And so, I politely (but firmly) asked her to back up to a safer distance and put her mask on – as per the marina’s policy for patrons in the indoor restroom areas.
Welp, she was not happy with my request and let me know it.
“Yeah, my mom’s a nurse and I know all about covid. But I’m not sick, so mind your business, Karen!”
And with that, she hurriedly left the bathroom, back to her parent’s boat on the dock.
Whoa! I was stunned at the disrespect but did not hesitate for a minute; I quickly dried my hands and followed after her!
Jerry was waiting for me outside the door, and when I rushed past him, he tried to stop me to see what was happening. He’s seen that look in my eyes before and wanted to slow me down – but I wasn’t having it!
Once at the dock, I saw the young woman climb on board her parent’s boat where they were waiting. Our boat was docked just ahead of theirs.
I stopped at the family’s boat and addressed the young woman, who looked slightly horrified.
“Excuse me, but I want to properly introduce myself,” I said. “My name is Tracy Baranauskas, not Karen.”
I went on…
“I know you meant it as an insult, but I want you to know that I’m taking it as a compliment. My name’s not Karen, but I am a carin’ person, who not only stands up for my own well-being, but yours and everyone else’s too.”
The young woman and her parents just stared at me, and no one spoke.
After an awkward few more moments of silence, Jerry, who had come up behind me, nodded over to our boat and we hopped aboard.
It was then that Jerry grinned and whispered, “Maybe we should reconsider having the name of your coaching business on the back of our boat?!”
We both burst out laughing!
Yes, it’s true, our boat is called “Moving Forward,” and I was proudly announcing my full name as I told a teenager off on the busy dock at the marina!
Not the best advertisement for a life coach, I suppose.
Later, I spent time in reflection – wondering about why being called “Karen” triggered me like that and sparked such an intense reaction. I also was curious about the embarrassment that was coming up for me.
It wasn’t that big of a deal, really – but why didn’t I want anyone to know about it?
But what did I think I’d be judged for? Being too opinionated? Too reactionary? Too sensitive?
I wasn’t sure, but I knew this all felt rather familiar – a lifetime pattern, in fact.
I was feeling both “not good enough” and “too much” – all at the same time.
When this came up for a client a few days later, I was able to gain even more clarity about what was likely happening – for both of us.
My client, who is an incredible human being, told me about the self-judgement, mind-drama, and subsequent shame she felt after standing up for herself when her integrity was questioned during a meeting at work.
She is a talented professional, who was completely within her rights; and she firmly stood her ground.
In the moment, she felt proud of herself for showing up in a way that aligned with her values and self-respect, but then…
“I started second-guessing myself, and I felt embarrassed. I think I might have been overly emotional, too much, and probably should have let it go,” she said. “I mean, I don’t want to be a Karen!”
Ah, there it was!
This opened the door for a candid conversation with my client that helped her challenge some of the long-held beliefs that had been holding her back. These beliefs were keeping her from fully stepping into her power and authentically sharing her light with the world.
Can you relate to any of this?
Do you have moments when you allow yourself to speak up and fully shine– only to later drown in self-doubt, judgment, and shame?
If so, clearly sister, you are not alone – and these conflicting feelings are likely due to a lifetime of cultural conditioning designed to keep you quiet and small.
As a life coach for women, I’m passionate about helping my clients break free from the taming of the patriarchy.
Yet, admittedly, I’m still a work in progress.
One snide comment from a teenager at the boat dock sent me backwards into a shame-storm, fearing that I might have been too loud, too bossy, too easily offended …
With this new awareness, came self-compassion and a decision not to further beat myself up and perpetuate the shame. And that’s what I’m encouraging you to do too, my friend.
It takes insight, intention, and courage to unravel the systemic conditioning meant to keep us restrained and silent. But it’s absolutely possible to begin replacing old, limiting beliefs with ones that help us share our light with the world!
And so, let’s start with this “Karen” B.S, shall we?
Let’s stop participating in the stereotyping designed to disempower us.
Let’s not participate in using or tolerating a word used to stereotype women who speak up for their beliefs, even if you don’t agree with what they have to say. (And by all means, use your voice to disagree – just not to shame another woman for being “too much” or “demanding beyond the scope of what is normal” – seriously, Wikipedia!)
This is important, sister.
Let’s go out of our way to encourage one another and make the world feel safer for each of us to contribute, stand out, and shine!
PS – After a moment of badassery, if you do feel yourself falling backwards, like I did, and the shame-storm starts kicking in… Hear my voice in your head: “There’s no shame in carin’!” and own your throne, my friend!