What Does #banbossy Mean For Introverts?


This week the Ban Bossy campaign has exploded online and #banbossy is one of the hottest trending topics on Twitter. I first heard about this idea when I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In and since then LeanIn.org has taken the concept one step further to launch an entire campaign, asking people to pledge their support to end the use of the term “bossy” when referring to strong-willed girls who are labelled bossy simply because they exhibit behaviors that many would consider to be leadership skills in boys.
I am a supporter of the idea behind this campaign. I understand that Sheryl Sandberg and Condoleezza Rice and many other now powerful women were once labelled as bossy by their peers, parents and teachers and this is wrong because little boys exhibiting the same behaviors would be encouraged. It is wrong because girls and women are expected to be nurturing, not opinionated. For the reasons of equality, I fully agree with the idea behind this campaign.
However, as a woman who was once a little girl full of passionate ideas and opinions, but painfully shy to express them, I worry about banning bossy, because I am concerned about what nurturing and encouraging such behavior in girls OR boys will do to little girls like I was.
I was an only child and certainly not a fan of sharing or teamwork, and believe me I was opinionated, but I was also an introvert, terrified to speak up about my opinions, and I was bullied by girls in school who were more aggressive than myself and my equally introverted peers.
In classrooms today where class sizes are growing, team activities and group learning is encouraged and extroversion, as we all know, is often rewarded, I worry that we risk marginalizing introverted kids more than ever before.
If we reward “aggressive” behavior, I’m afraid that we’ll continue to reward extroversion over introversion and I don’t think that’s right. Introverted kids are full of great ideas and passionate about them too, but they wouldn’t necessarily consider stating them out loud or even raising their hand to share them until they’ve listened and taken in all of the facts, or simply until they feel comfortable enough in their environment to do so.
One thing I know about myself as a youngster and have observed and read about in other introverted children is that we are truly listeners. I think of my cousin, Mitchell as I write this. He is one of the most gifted people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He is not extroverted socially, but his true talent lies in his listening skills. He listens to every word spoken around our family dinner tables and doesn’t make a sound and then, just when you forget he’s even sitting there, his voice rises above the yammer and he says the most profound observation that silences everyone with its wisdom.
And so, let’s not label little girls and little boys differently for exhibiting the same behaviors, but let’s also not go too far and reward “bossiness” to the point that quiet little girls and boys are silenced. Imagine what insights we might miss out on.

Introverts and The Super Bowl

Happy Superb Owl Sunday folks!

Stephen Colbert coined the phrase “Superb Owl” this week in response to the ban on the term “superbowl” in commercials and I’ve chosen to use it here because I find it amusing.

The Colbert Report – Superb Owl

I’ll admit I don’t know much of anything about football or sports in general, but I’m attending a Superb Owl party tonight and am getting excited to get hopped up on delicious eats, some mocktails (I’m the designated driver) and to watch the big game with close friends.

I don’t know who I’m rooting for yet, which might seem strange to avid football fans, but I’m just excited to watch and enjoy!

Leading up to The Big Game, I’ve been thinking about introverts and sports. In terms of playing sports, many people seem to believe that introverts prefer more solitary sports such as tennis, and that sports like football are the perfect environment for extroverts who are energized by a big, roaring crowd and prefer teamwork. I recognize the legitimacy of this argument, however I came across a blog post following last year’s Big Game talking about Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, who seems to fit the introvert mold to a T:

Blog Post: The Best of Extroverts and Introverts at the Super Bowl

What I like most about that post is that the author talks about being true to your personality, or living your personal brand, if you will. It doesn’t matter if you love loud, noisy crowds and teamwork, or if you are more energized and comfortable in solitude. You can still do anything, and you can do it well, as long as you stay true to who you are.

Happy Super Bowl (or whatever you want to call it)!

Gie her a haggis!

In honor of Burns Night, or Robbie Burns Day yesterday, I’ve decided to share a Vice video that will show you how you can make your very own Haggis, if you so desire! Or, at least you’ll know what you’re eating if you choose to try some.

Video: How to Make Haggis

Why do we celebrate Burns Night (Robbie Burns Day)?

It is a Scottish tradition, celebrating the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The reason the haggis is the dish of choice at this magical time of year is a result of Burns’ famous poem, “Address to a Haggis”.

Didn’t have a Scottish grandmother who schooled you in the joys of Robbie Burns and the magnificent haggis? Click to learn more.

My background is only part Scottish, but there is something about Scottish pride that is infectious and makes you want to be a part of the celebration. Now I will admit, I have yet to try haggis myself, so that is my goal over the coming weeks. There is a well known fish and chip joint in my neighbourhood that offers the stuff on their menu, right next to the haddock and chips I usually order, and I plan to try it. Stay tuned for a full report.

Also coming up, my experience brining and cooking our first turkey. This one has been a long time coming to you folks and I promise it will be full of lessons learned, instructional photos and a bit of a funny story to boot…

Does the belief of one man trump the rights of hundreds of women?

Based on a shocking and deeply disturbing decision made this week by York University officials, I fear the answer may be yes.

With the start of a New Year, I was planning to post about the joys of the holiday season, sharing my experience brining and cooking my first turkey, but there is an issue that has come up this week that has struck a large blow to Canadian women, and I am so deeply offended and concerned, that I feel it is more important that I share this with you first and foremost.

As many of you may be aware, a male student at York University requested that he be excused from working with women in his class because it is, apparently, against his religion. The religion of said student remains unknown, but there is no religion I am aware of that makes such a statement. There are however fundamentalists from many religions across the globe who would make such a claim, and the fact that it would even be entertained in a country as openly diverse as Canada is not only shocking, but deeply offensive to the basic rights women have been fighting on behalf of for centuries.

Surely, such a request, which, if complied with, would suggest that York University cares more about the religious claims of one student than it does about the rights of the hundreds of female students, would be preposterous, right?

Well, officials at York University didn’t agree. Some supporters of this decision have even said that if the student had made a similar claim about not wanting to work with students of a particular race because of his religious beliefs this would have been much more shocking.

Excuse me? Did I hear that correctly? Racial rights are more important and a higher priority than women’s rights? It isn’t shocking to officials of a top University in the Western world in 2014 that a male student may not want to work with women?! Are you kidding me?!

The student’s instructor, Professor Paul Grayson denied the student’s request and the student himself actually agreed to work with the women in his class, but school officials, apparently not satisfied with the fact that the Professor had managed to resolve the issue without the benefit of their egotistical interference, felt the need to step in and overturn his decision.

Grayson responded with the following statement:

“Women for 50 years have been making gains in universities. This takes us back to the dark ages as far as I’m concerned. It’s completely unacceptable.”

In a Globe and Mail article, writer Sheema Khan said, “The York student’s request is based on cultural preference rather than any solid religious foundation. Nonetheless, the prevailing societal norm should not be set aside to accommodate a view that repudiates the efforts of countless women and men to ensure equal opportunity. Gender equality is non-negotiable.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

The idea that working with women is somehow against any God is exactly the kind of negative attitude towards women that we need to fight to challenge. It is the root of the same attitude that causes girls in some countries to have acid thrown in their faces when walking to school. It is the same attitude that caused the Taliban to shoot then 11-12 year old Malala Yousafzai in the face because she refused to stop going to school. It is the same because it is a disregard for the rights of women. It is the same because it is a slap in the face acknowledgement that there is something about working with or being educated alongside women that is negative and wrong.

Here is the promise I am making. I will not attend a course at York University so long as this decision is upheld and those same officials remain in their positions.

If I were a current student there, I would walk out and refuse to attend classes, encouraging my fellow students to do the same, male and female.

I know that education is a powerful right and that not every woman may be in the position to abandon their education for the sake of women’s rights and I respect that, so all I ask is that you do something. Tweet about it, share a link on Facebook, talk about it with your friends. Just don’t let it be forgotten.

If we do nothing, this issue will fade as life goes on and the idea that one man’s claim for religious rights could be more important than the rights of hundreds of women will become part of our cultural identity and our collective consciousness.  

The fact that this attitude could be supported in Canada is dangerous. If we can’t even be bothered to stand up against this kind of ignorance here, what hope will there ever be for the rest of the world?

Some well articulated articles on this topic can be found below:

What York University forgot: Gender Equality is not negotiable by Sheema Khan

York University cowardly, compliant and blind to common sense by Rosie DiManno

5 Tips for Staying Sane During the Holidays


It’s that time of year again folks! Time for twinkly lights, jovial music, spiked eggnog and tryptophan comas!

This also happens to be my favourite time of year. I’ll admit I am one of those people who loves when they start playing Christmas music in malls, has my tree up by early November and insists on watching every Christmas movie ever made, every year. Love Actually is my favourite, and yes I still cry when the little boy runs through the airport to tell the little girl he loves her. Anyone who doesn’t cry at that part is a soulless robot.
But, aside from the general cheer, the holidays also bring copious amounts of get-togethers. From large, formal parties to casual dinners, lunches and drinks. Everyone seems to want to catch up with old friends and new friends before the holidays hit. Maybe this desire to re-connect is a result of all of those sappy movies that make us reflect on the past year, and realize how long it’s been since we’ve seen anyone. Or, maybe it’s because there’s just something about this time of year that makes it feel good to be out amongst the cheerful people, colourful lights and jolly music and make more of an effort than we normally would?

Either way, this time of year can be quite hectic and overwhelming for some with so many demands on our time. As we all know, packed schedules can be particularly overwhelming for an introvert, so here are 5 tips that keep me sane and help me to avoid turning into a huge Grinch:

1) Make a visiting schedule – I know this applies to life in general, but let’s face it, we don’t use our calendars as much as we should when it comes to our personal lives.Try to schedule the friends and family you want to see as far in advance as possible and actually put the date into your calendar. If you plan in advance it won’t seem so overwhelmingly stressful and you might actually look forward to it.
2) Remember it’s okay to say No – Despite our best organizational efforts, sometimes we just can’t make time for everyone during the holidays. If this person is truly your friend, they will understand and not wish an anxiety attack on you if you need to schedule time with them in the New Year. If they don’t understand, well you might want to re-assess your friendship. Harsh, but fair.

3) You can’t buy presents for everyone – It is virtually impossible to buy presents for everyone you know, nor is it necessary. I recommend making a list of everyone you really need (and want) to buy a meaningful present for and then give everyone else a lovely card and maybe some homemade cookies if baking is your thing. A thoughtful card goes a long way.

4) Make Lists & Shop Early – These might be two points but believe me they go hand it hand. I know shopping early is something we all say we’ll do and it totally doesn’t happen. I am guilty of this. I recommend taking an hour on a Saturday to make a list of all the people you want to buy for (refer to tip 3!) and make a list of gift ideas for each person. If you listen to tip 3 this list shouldn’t be too long. If you make said list early enough (say August?) you can actually start keeping an eye out for gifts before they become overpriced.

5) Don’t Forget About You – Last, but definitely not least, remember to take time for yourself. Yes this is the time of year for giving to others, but, as I always say to my Mom, “if you don’t take care of yourself first, you’re no good to anyone!” Considering my Mom has a habit of thinking of everyone else but herself, I find this to be an effective phrase.

There you have it! These are some tidbits I find helpful during the holidays and I hope they help you too.

Now folks, I want to hear from you. What do you find helpful to stay sane and keep organized during the holidays?

Coming Up:
Stay tuned for my step by step adventure cooking my very first turkey!

Back in the Game

Part of the reason I took a break from blogging has to do with on onslaught of people arguing about the validity of terms like introvert and extrovert. It got me to thinking about these terms and how accurate and relevant they are. And, here’s what I’ve decided. They are incredibly relevant.

No one is claiming that these terms are scientific in any way, but studies do show that some groups of people are energized by large crowds and interactions with lots of other people, and some people are drained by the same interactions. This doesn’t mean that this second group of people don’t enjoy social interaction, in fact some introverts are incredibly social, they just come away from the experience feeling differently than extroverts and they need quiet time to re-charge.

I fit squarely into this second category as do many people I know, and in an increasingly social world with open concept offices, more condos going up all around us and populations continuing to grow, an understanding of what introverts need to be productive and happy is more important now than ever.

So if you find yourself wondering how to reach that quieter employee or how to get your “homebody” friends to come out with you more often, remember to practice a little patience and consider a different approach. For example, maybe that employee would feel more comfortable speaking up in meetings if they knew they wouldn’t be interrupted by their more extroverted colleagues. Some offices use the “spirit stick” policy. You know that idea where only the person with the stick can speak? It might be a little cheesy, but at least it gives everyone an equal chance to contribute and makes it more obvious when someone interrupts or talks over someone else.

It is this kind of discussion that has brought me back into the game of writing about what it means to be an introvert or an extrovert and why that conversation is so important.

Lastly, I’d like to share a video of an office that seems to be doing it right! When I first saw this, I’ll admit I called them out on not creating an environment where introverts would thrive,  and possibly being at risk of not having a diverse workforce with a good balance of introverts and extroverts. Well, they promptly tweeted back assuring me that they have nap rooms where anyone can go to re-charge, as well as ample meeting spaces for quiet work.

Check out the offices of FreshBooks: