Carry-On Luggage


I’ve been thinking a lot about the baggage that we all carry with us. Race, gender, sexuality, religious background, etc….they all add to the paranoia that people are prejudging us. When you’re told that you need to be more professional at work, for example, what does that mean? You don’t dress right? You need to wear makeup? Your speech is too casual? Without more specifics, we’re left to wonder if they really mean that you’ll never make the cut, that you need to disguise who you are, you need to conform. Why can’t we succeed as we really are–our “authentic selves,” as it’s called these days?

Sometimes it’s as simple as they’re not communicating, and if they told you what it was, you’d realize it’s really a minor issue that you can fix if you were just aware of it. But other times, it probably is as you suspect, and you have to decide: Do I conform to their expectations so that I can move up, or do I stay true to myself and possibly never make any progress? The problem with trying to make them happy is that everyone has their own expectations, and as soon as you make one person happy with your “growth,” you find out that the next person has a different gripe, and so on. And you spend all your time and energy trying to fit in, rather than excelling at what you’re really good at.

I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m still struggling with my baggage. I’m proud of who I am. I like myself, and I appreciate my gifts and talents. But I’m afraid that no one else recognizes what I have to offer.


  1. Another place for that timely quote by Bill Cosby: “I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.” Sure, people have expectations of you and you’re even expected to live up to them and otherwise conform to things… but you can only do what you can do and first and foremost, you HAVE to be the person YOU want and need to be; otherwise, how can you know what you can or can’t do? If you spend your time trying to meet the expectations of others, you wind up chasing your own tail, as you accurately pointed out by saying that if you make one person happy with you, someone else is going to be unhappy with you.

    I once heard that, “You should be more professional at work” thing and my reply involved words that would make my mother would wash my mouth out with soap because I refused to conform to someone else’s way of behaving just because it would make them happy… but it wouldn’t make ME happy with myself so while in such situations you have to play by the rules, you do it as your own person and not what someone else thinks you should be. And it they don’t like it, tough titty.

    I don’t particular care if someone prejudges me and more so when they don’t know enough about me to even do something stupid like that. They might not like the fact that I’m a Black male bisexual and Baptist… but all they can do is not like it because if they wanna judge me, they will find themselves under the microscope, too – and I’m sure that’s not gonna be nice or go well for them. The solution to avoiding such things is to not let anyone else make you paranoid because of who and/or what you are- it’s your life, not theirs.


    • Thank you for your response. I’m glad my thoughts are having an impact on so many people. I’m still trying to work through my thoughts so I can have a more effective blog.


  2. I heard several times that I needed to dress more professionally for work. I actually tried and thought I looked fine. But one day I accidentally wore mismatched socks under pants and a colleague complained to management. That resulted in a 5 day unpaid suspension. I often feel like a square peg in a round circled world.


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