Adventuring with a Camera, Pt. XIII

Natural Bridge State Park (Rockbridge County, VA)


When It All Started for Me Too

I joined in on the social media movement and posted “Me too” on my Facebook page. Before doing so, I seriously considered whether there would be any ramifications from it. Would any coworkers look at me differently the next morning? What would my family think – my sister, my parents, my boyfriend’s family?

Shortly after I posted my status, I spoke to my sister over the phone. Part of the conversation went something like this:

Sam: Hey, so uh I saw your status.

Jess: …

Sam: You know, the Me Too status.

Jess: Oh, yeah.

Sam: Want to talk about it?

Jess: No, not really. I mean I haven’t been raped or anything. Haven’t you ever gotten your ass grabbed at a party?

Sam: Oh, yeah.

Jess: Yeah, I mean it’s not anything huge but it’s still something that has happened to me.

There was more to that conversation than above, but that is where it all started. As I began to say more about my personal take on the movement and how it affected me, I also began to feel increasingly bothered by the fact that I was trivializing my personal experiences. I was comparing my experiences to the brutal cases of rape and the higher levels of violence reported in the news. I felt as though I had less a voice to speak on the issue because nothing egregious (by our society’s standards) had happened to me. And I realized then that it wasn’t okay to feel how I was feeling. When speaking to perhaps one of the most trustworthy people in my life, I felt like I had to downplay what had happened to me.

I’ve never been brutally assaulted. I’ve never been raped. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced harassment.

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When Mediocrity is Assigned to the Workplace

I don’t talk a lot about my job. Firstly, the day-to-day tasks of my position aren’t all that riveting. Secondly whatever I might consider to be interesting probably sounds like gibberish to whomever I am talking to about it. When I am asked about my job in casual conversations, I find myself describing it with as broad a brush as possible and as I speak I notice that I sound embarrassed. I make up excuses that might offer greater meaning to myself:

“And then after work, I volunteer with a literacy non-profit. That way I can put my tutoring skills to work.”

“I’ve thought about grad school, but I’m just not financially ready for all that – but yeah I agree it might be a good option in the future.”

And a personal favorite: “I’m keeping up with my writing, don’t worry! I’m in a writing group.” I’m sad to say that despite my energy in attending, my discipline in writing has gone somewhat to hell. 

It’s difficult for me to admit to people that at the current moment, I feel that I am exactly where I need to be. When I say it out loud, I get this look that screams, that’s nice now tell me how you really feel. Insurance might be entirely different from what I studied in college, but that does not mean that I am settling. In no way does that mean I’m settling.

Why do I always retreat to saying as little about my job when asked? Even still, why am I always making excuses as to why I chose to go into insurance?

It is not as if I am ashamed; on the contrary I am actually quite proud of how far I’ve come since stepping into my full-time position. 

I fully admit that the industry sounds disenchanting no matter what angle you view it from. Underwriting, actuarial duties, claims, risk solutions – there’s nothing that shouts out endgame dream job. Insurance in particular has the stigma that any of its employees are chained to their desks while confined in their minuscule cubicle space. The stigma screams artificial lights, tip-tapping of the dozens of keyboards around you, ringing phones, stiff computer chairs . I can’t deny that there is some reality to that idea, but the actual work that we put into our roles is never really given its due. The effort that goes into learning about the hundreds of industries we insure and the specific hazards that goes into each industry opens your eyes to the bigger picture of what Americans of all shapes and sizes endure day after day in their own career roles.

The true value of the work and effort that is put in day after day is so often overlooked and all that is recognized is the reputation of the industry as a whole.

Most, if not all, culture references to the insurance workplace present it as the bar of mediocrity in the American workforce today. I think this bar is applied to other industries as well; other”office desk” industries. Perhaps due to that stigma that is assigned to the industry within our mainstream culture, I feel obligated to keep quiet about the specifics of what I do. And that is was I find to be incredibly frustrating.