Saturday, July 13, 2013

Leaning In

This is not (exactly) a post on the Sheryl Sandberg book. I can't really write about it in the first place since I haven't read it.  Despite not having read it, I have some strong opinions on the book.  Opinions I am brazenly going to share just for the heck of it.  They may well be misinformed, but they come from a deep-seated skepticism about taking life or career advice from ├╝ber-privileged, super-successful wonder woman types.  This comes from believing that we (that is, me and Sandberg) are not similarly situated, that her advice is (probably) not attuned to my real life issues - much less the issues faced by middle or low-wage working women- and more importantly, that I just don't want the same things as her. I also agree with many critiques of her book which point out that by putting the onus on individuals to "make change" in their work lives, she fails to challenge systemic structures that hold women back in the workplace. 

So, as I understand it from not reading the book, Sandberg tells women to "lean in" to their work, channel their ambition, and just "go for it" at their jobs instead of making accommodations to achieve (the ever-elusive) work-life balance. I may be mistaken, but it sounds to me that the "leaning in" she advocates is primarily, or maybe entirely, career-focused. 

Now that I'm a couple of paragraphs in to this post, you may be wondering why I even mentioned "leaning in" since I really have nothing new or unique to say about a book I haven't even read.  Well, I was listening to another Tara Brach talk on a walk down to the bay shore with Lydia earlier this week.  Tara (confession: I think of her on a first name basis now) was talking about how we all "instinctively armor against the fear of loss."  By blocking out the rawness of our deepest fears and anxieties, we wall off our heart. Tara explained, more eloquently than I can, that we have to "lean in" to that pain.  We have to let ourselves feel it and let down our resistance to any form of inner discomfort so we can actually respond to ourselves and others with compassion.  I guess it hearkens back to the old spiritual I reflected on earlier: we have to actually walk that lonesome valley.

Through all this, I'm learning that it is utterly unproductive to suppress how I am feeling, to bottle things up, or to shy away from uncomfortable truths.  This introspective "leaning in," which I believe actually takes more courage than asking for a better parking spot at work or even a raise or promotion, is the type I want to practice and master. 


Marion Franck said...

Katina, I think in your spare time (you have so much of it, I know) you could rewrite this into a really good op-ed piece. Leaning into pain. A great concept that also speaks your truth.

dirteens said...

Thanks Marion. That's so nice of you to say!

dirteens said...

Oh, and I would probably need to read the book first :)