July 20, 2017

Not Code Words

A realization hit me recently: the majority of my contacts view me as a stay at home mom. Fellow daycare moms have made that assumption when organizing play dates, as well as former colleagues. Even at my dental checkup the dentist even said to me “well, at least you’re not working so you don’t have to worry about maternity leave” when I told him about my pregnancy. If someone knows me as a mom, chances are they think I’m a stay-at-home-mom.

I’ve never been much of a self promoter. I read that it’s important to trumpet your own horn when you’re a self employed (who else is going to?) so I have made an effort to talk about major milestones I hit on social media. After all, it was my hope that if my business failed, it would at least look good on my resume. It seemed odd to think how common this misunderstanding of what I do was, but to be honest I have never really thought about why I might be giving this impression until I came across the story of another mom-turned-entrapuener.

This other entrapuener had worked on her side business for three years before leaving corporate world to turn her side business into her main business, all when her kids were very young. Despite the success she was having, many friends and family assumed she her primary interest was to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and the business was just a cover. In their eyes it was a vanity project, resume fodder to hide the fact she wasn’t working. Others in the comment section reported the same experience. Suddenly all those past interactions I had been having made sense.

To be honest I was more than a little annoyed. When one assumes I’m not working they’re assigning zero value to anything I produce. If Datayze is a vanity project, then by definition it only serves my vanity. All those hard long nights, all that effort, all worthless.

I realize this is partially a monster of my own making. I have been very open about my desire for better work/life balancing being one of the reasons I left my previous job. The flexibility to divide my time between my business and my family the way I want to has been one of the perks I enjoy about my current setup. If you’re inclined to believe “running my own business” is code for “not working”, I can see how I might appear to fit this mold.

So now I’m left with the question of how do I combat this perception. Do I brag more about the successes? Humblebrag about how busy I am? I don’t think I’m comfortable with any more self-promotion than I already do, and I hate to perpetuate the cult of busy. Or do I point out the inherent stereotyping behind of this kind of assumption? Difficult to do without coming across as antagonistic. Probably not worth my time.

I guess undeniable success is the only way to go.

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