I believe in being transformed

Ellen - Waterford, Michigan
Entered on October 15, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

THIS I BELIEVE ESSAY

I believe in being transformed. One definition is “to change in character or condition”. That’s the kind I’m talking about. I have been majorly transformed twice thus far in my relatively short 35 years.

The first transformation took place during a long, hard year spent in rural Nicaragua, Central America. I arrived as a fresh-faced, naïve young person. As a couple of men in positions of power subjected me to a great deal of sexism, I got angry and stomped my foot a lot. I made loud statements to sympathetic friends. In reality, I felt completely helpless. This happened to me a lot. What led to the transformation was my friendship with Maria, a Nicaraguan woman with no formal education past the third grade that worked in my home as a domestic worker. As this quiet, watchful woman and I became friends, I learned her story of true suffering, hardship and, well, what it was like to really be victimized. But it wasn’t a case of suddenly realizing that what I was experiencing was “nothing”. Instead, through our friendship, Maria showed me that she believed in me and my ability to act, especially when I couldn’t believe in myself. Largely because of her, I went on to do just that. I was successful in my job, in spite of those men. But more importantly, I was successful in learning to believe in myself.

When I returned home, that first transformation led to a career that put me in high-power places. For seven years I earned a reputation in my field of being one of the best. It was hard to imagine that I had once felt helpless at all.

The second transformation came when my first son had his first birthday. As my husband and I cut his birthday cake, I realized that I really wanted to spend more time with this little person. We made the necessary adjustments to our lives, and I left the full-time workforce behind.

My Executive Board made bets about how long I would last at home before I was begging to come back. What they didn’t realize is how important transformation is to me. See, Maria helped me to be transformed into someone who could take my situation and make it more what I wanted it to be. Once I had practiced that in my professional life, I had every confidence that I could do the same as a mom.

Turns out I was right.

I’ve now spent over a year working in the corporate world as a training facilitator, helping other people hone their skills in several areas. While this has been rewarding work in it’s own way, I can tell that my time is coming to move on again.

And all the while, I’m being transformed. I can’t wait to see what the next one will be. This I Believe.