I was interviewing a candidate for a job at my company recently and the person I was talking to said these words …
“To be honest, I’m probably organized to a fault.”
My brain almost exploded. I literally stopped her mid-sentence and challenged that statement. Is there such a thing as being organized to a fault? Not in my vocabulary. This just doesn’t compute.
The conversation moved on to other things but this statement has been swirling in my brain ever since. It made me think of all the times I’ve been derided for the very traits that are my strengths. The ones that make me a Penelope.
I’ve been called, since I was very small:
- a perfectionist
- a control freak
- Type A
- a busybody
- Little Miss Goody Two Shoes
- overly organized
- organized to a fault
- a neat freak
- a worry wart
And the list goes on. And, perhaps more damaging, not only have I been called these things, I’ve called myself these things. Making excuses or apologizing for being the way I am.
So, I have to ask myself – and all of you- why does society negatively describe the Penelope Personality? And why do we accept it?
Why do we make apologies for the very things that make us successful? For the traits that help us manage multiple projects, or maintain multiple roles in our lives successfully? The traits that help us get so much more done than other people?
Why did this woman, a smart, successful woman, who we considered hiring BECAUSE of her Penelope-ness, feel the need to say she was sorry for being organized? And why don’t we hear these things being said about men? Because, you know, we don’t.
I for one am done with this. I’m putting a stake in the ground and saying I forbid all Penelopes from apologizing for being the way we are naturally. Sure, not everyone has to be this way, and it’s not a question of better or worse, but it is a matter of us accepting our natural selves and loving it. It’s about valuing our strengths and what makes us special and oh, so capable, no matter what we choose to do.
And, it’s about banding together and affirming that being a Penelope is overwhelmingly positive and any negative names will be ignored.
There’s a power in being this way. We need to teach that to our Penelope daughters and nieces and young friends. And we need to accept it as a truth within our selves.