Resilience – Your Greatest Asset

Bek: Image Credit @Pam Hutchinson Photography

I was privileged to be invited to the BPW Geelong group to speak at their annual breakfast event, themed “moving On Up”, held at the GMHBA Stadium.  It was an incredible view over the grounds as the sun came up.  I can admire it because I usually make a point of not being awake when the sun comes up!

The topic was about resilience being your greatest asset and the intro that was given used all of my not-too-insignificant achievement to introduce me.  I wanted everyone to know that I had a achieved many amazing things in my life over the last 30 years or so since I started to embrace “adulting”.  (I’m still not sure I’ve nailed it 😊).  The reason I wanted them to know that is because of how I grew up. 

My family home was not… comfortable.  As I told the audience, my first memories are off my father belting the living daylights out of my mother.   The memories never got better.  They got worse.  There were various other forms of abuse enacted on her and on her children, myself and my two younger siblings.  I moved out of home as soon as could and was working full time to put myself through university when I was diagnosed with a lifetime autoimmune condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis that was going to be my constant companion for the rest of my life.  Which was likely to be short due to the aggressive nature of my disease – or so the doctors told me.

So there I was, 19 years old, with a traumatic upbringing that I had not even begun to deal with mentally, with a physical condition that was, by all external accounts, going to make it pointless to strive for anything, studying to be an engineer and with no family, no friends and no support.

How did I get from that to the award-winning, published, confident leader than I am today?

RESILIENCE

I didn’t know what it was back then, resilience was just a word that I read in books; it had no relevance to me, but that is what I used.  Like a muscle, I exercised that thing like I was powerlifting to rival the Terminator’s strength.  I was given plenty of opportunities to practice resilience in my life, what with a degenerative and painful (is there a word that is less descriptive of what continuous pain feels like?) condition, and working in the male dominated field of construction, with a history of male and authority figure violence.  I know the statistics.  I am not supposed to be this women.

But that is exactly why I am this women.  The powerful creation of my own making, because I refused the story I was told that was my predictable future.  I refused to give up, fade away, self sabotage, be less than, be a good girl, shut up, don’t make waves and definitely don’t be so damn smart.  FUCK THAT.  Let me say that again. FUCK THAT SHIT.

I refuse to be less than everything I can be, because history, statistics, my disease and some people tell me that I am not supposed to be here, capable, strong, powerful, a leader, whole.  I am not supposed to be comfortable with what I’ve been through and I am not supposed to be able to hold my own on a stage, a platform, a crowd, leading a project, or even in dealing with life and my disability.

It took so much for me to learn to forgive, to move on, to rise above, to be better than the story of my life.  I changed the story.  I will continue to write my own story and inspire other women, via the stage, via my writing, via being the best I can be and improving every day where I can. 

Resilience – it is the best accessory a person can have.  I carry it with me always.


If you would like to talk to me about being RESILIENT in your life please fill in the form below to contact me:

resilience

Dancing with Imposter Syndrome

“it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off’  
Florence and the Machine – Lyrics from “Shake It Off” 

We have a name for it now.  That feeling of inadequacy and the doom that shrouds us when we consider ourselves, particularly in comparison to others, when we allow the not-good-enough to rule our minds and emotions. 

I have been active participant in a dance with imposter syndrome ever since I can remember.  My father made a point of sharing his displeasure that I had been born a girl.  He often expressed that with more than his voice; fists were involved.  Fortunately for me I was of the type that used the physical pain to overcome and fight against.  The fight was only in my mind for many years until I developed the words to “shake him off”. 

My mother was not a role-model for me, many years of domestic violence had whittled away at her for so long she didn’t know who she was.  Even if there was a space for her in the world he created; her husband, my father, was far too controlling to allow any form of self-expression. 

In my professional life, I chose the difficult path of engineering and construction.  I didn’t really choose it, not back then.  Back then it was a suitable use of my skills and the fastest way to a high paying long-term career – in my mind – escape!  What I didn’t realise, that at no point was this industry going to make my dance with imposter syndrome smooth, more coordinated, elegant.  It made it worse.  And I still didn’t know what it was, just that I didn’t fit… anywhere. 

I was in an industry that (back then) was much more resistant to females in the ‘power roles’ – admin and HR were perfectly fine – but engineer, leader?  I was one of 10 women in my university course of over 600.  I had some wonderful men who didn’t see my gender as an issue, they went out of there way to acknowledge that as I was bright, determined, and logically smart, I could make it.  They supported and trained and mentored me before mentoring was even on the radar as a powerful tool.  Since then I have become my own mentor, failing to find anyone who could fulfil that role for me during the early professional years of my life.

Fast forward through sever and on-going chronic illness, the final death of my father and my mother coming to live with me, and the many numerous projects and construction experiences I have had and it is only now, coming out of my thirties, that I feel I am now the lead in this convoluted dance.  I chose when and how to turn, I choose the steps and the path.  The imposter syndrome is now subdued, my pet almost, something that lifts it head for attention but does not insist any more than I dance to the tune of its making.  I check in with it every now and then, because I also do not want to become its opposite – an ego monster, one so enamoured of itself that it becomes as consuming as the imposter syndrome once was.  But it is now a tool, a function, one I have embraced and integrated into my life, rather than forced out.  I stopped giving it permission. 

The voice that tells me I have come so far from that scared, frightened, shy and subdued young lady is now a roar that echoes through the lives I have affected, showing the world and its propensity for shutting down the shine, that I am here and I am an incredible survivor, a high achiever, and I am not stopping any time soon.   

I hope that your journey with imposter syndrome can be turned on its head and that you too can see the light that shines within you.  I made it, I know you can too.  

“pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel, like you’re less than f###ing perfect” 
P!nk – Lyrics from Perfect  

Becky Paroz doesn’t fit in.  She has worked for nearly 30 years in the construction industry, taking names and making one for herself.  She loves her workboots, colours her hair purple and speaks loudly with a strong and confident voice.  Bek makes her place in the world, she has never waited for a space to open for her Moving beyond  mentoring within industry for the last 10 years, Becky is now seeking her tribe to connect within and would love to hear from any fellow mavericks and nonconformists out there at any of her social media spots which you can find on her website www.wordsofbek.com.au  


If you would like to talk to Bek about her mentoring please fill in the form below:

Empowering Mentoring Uncategorized