Monday, June 17, 2013

Slouch down

Last week, my dear friend A'driane made a comment on twitter along the lines of "Should I just be leaning in to all this motherhood/artist/writer stuff?"

After pointing out that if she leaned in to everything, she'd fall down, I suggested an alternative.  My new motto:  instead of leaning in, "Slouch down so no one can see you and ask you to do anything else."

Let me back up a little.

In case you are the only person in the world who hasn't heard about it, Lean in is the title of a book, and subsequently a movement, written and orchestrated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.  Because when you're in an executive position at the largest social site in the world, it's pretty easy to turn anything you want into a movement. 

The idea behind lean in is that more women should lean in to career and leadership positions.  I actually haven't read the book, but my understanding is that "lean in" kind of has two different meanings.  First that we can change the trajectory of women in industry by making our careers and advancement a priority, by leaning INTO these things and leaning OUT OF other things (it seems that people forget that part).  But also that you can tell who is engaged at a meeting, and consequently who is going to get ahead, by looking at who is physically leaning in.

When I was a teacher, I totally didn't lean in at faculty meetings.  I sat in the back.  I tried to sneakily grade papers when no one was looking.  I slouched down.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I didn't slouch down in the classroom.  I don't think I even sat down in the classroom.  I was all up in everyone's face, all the time.

But here's the thing.  I wasn't trying to get ahead.  I wasn't going to get ahead.  In teaching, the only way to "get ahead" or "move up" is by not teaching anymore.  Which I wasn't at all interested in.

Motherhood is kind of the same.

So here's what I'm trying to get at.

I understand leaning in.  I do.  I think it's important for women to get ahead in the workforce.  I think it's great for the women who are in a position to do that, who are interested in doing it.  I am grateful for those who are doing it because I believe that they really will change the world.


We won't all get ahead.  We can't all get ahead.  We don't all want to get ahead.   Some of us just want to be exactly where we are right now.

And working harder won't get us anywhere but busier. 

Many of us, I would venture *most* of us, aren't busy because we're getting ahead.  We're busy because we're reacting.  

So, when I suggest we slouch down, I'm not suggesting we not do our jobs.  What I am suggesting is that we CHOOSE our jobs.  That we do the things that we are here to do with all  our hearts, but that we stop letting other people shove their purposes in our faces. 

In your classroom, close the door and do the right thing.  In your house, close pinterest and look at your babies and yourself.  In your heart and head, shut off the noise and trust that you are already doing enough and don't need a single other thing to be a success.

Who wants to slouch down with me?


  1. ME! *slouching*

  2. Slouching! I love the line about not letting other people shove their purposes in our faces. I'd like to add that nobody should be making us feel like we'd only be a better mother if...(we ate all organic, did crafts, did preschool, homeschooled, etc.)

  3. amen.
    I'll be under this table if you want to join me for some tea.

  4. I love this. I'll be interested to hear Sheryl Sandberg speak at BlogHer. You are right. You cannot lean in without leaning out on other things. No one is talking about that aspect at all. I'm slouching with you.