I remember in my late-teens, hearing the term “glass ceiling” and actually having to look it up to understand the meaning. I attribute this to the values I was raised with. On the surface, I seem like not only the average person, but the majority. I am a middle-America, white, middle class female. Which means that by the U.S. Census Bureau, I fall under a number of “majority” categories. However, as in everyone, when you scratch below the surface, everyone has situations that set them apart culturally (US Census Bureau, 2021).
I was raised in what people refer to as a “broken home.” Both parents having been divorced prior to marrying one another and children coming from those marriages. I was also raised in a home in which my father was the only male. In addition, we were not considered middle-class until late in my teenage years. We fell in the lower-class category. None of these things are what I would consider bad things. They are just part of what formed myself and my sisters. We didn’t understand the term “glass ceiling” because we were raised in a home in which we were never taught that being female would be a disadvantage. In fact, quite the opposite. We have all been described as strong, independent women and have each managed to be successful in what we have pursued. We were always told that we could be anything we wanted to be and no challenge couldn’t be overcome with hard work and determination.
I chose to join the military. At 18 I joined the Army. In 2008 I was called up for a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. At the time, I was an E-4 (Specialist). At the time, we were considered over-strength, meaning that they were going to have to choose between myself and another person on who would be going on the deployment. Because of my rank, age and gender, I was not favored to be chosen. I was taken aside and it was explained to me that the other person was, on paper, the better suited candidate for the job. However, a higher ranking person had made the suggestion that I be chosen based on my work ethic. The caveat being that within three months of being in Iraq, I had to be promoted. This would mean quite a bit of work on my part. In addition to the usual deployment work that was extensive, I would need to study and pass my board to become a sergeant. I agreed and off I went. Within two months of being there I “got my stripes.”
I felt like not only had I personally accomplished a lot, but I felt like I had lived up to the expectations of those people who fought to have me on the deployment. I felt justifed and vindicated and I knew that my hard work had paid off, both the immediate hard work, but also the work I had been putting in for years that gave me that opportunity. I was motivated not only by my own personal standards, but those set before me by my leadership.
On that same note, the next deployment I had set the goal to once again be promoted. I did not acheive this goal and actually didn’t acheive it for quite some time. I could say that the stakes were lower and I lacked the leadership I had in the first, but realistically, by that time, me attitude had changed and my motivation had changed. I did not put forth the effort I needed to in order to obtain that goal at the time. A number of factors played in to that, but in all honesty I can say my self-awareness was impacted by a number of influences at the time. I lacked aggreeableness, motivation, emotional stability, conscientiousness and even openness to the experience. I was closed off. It was not the appropriate time to set that goal and the harder it became to acheive it, the less motivated I was to do so and the more jaded I became at the situation. I learned from that experience though. I learned a lot about self awareness that I utilize today (C., Dowd, & Schneider, 2022).
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