One of my proudest moments as an undergraduate was being elected to be editor-in-chief of my university’s student newspaper. I ran because I believed I had what it took to lead the organization into the future, and the election showed that a majority of my co-workers agreed, too. I was elated. But during the planning process for the semester, a co-worker (without thinking, I assume/hope) took me down a peg. He told me that my theme song should be the Kelis song, ‘Bossy,’ because I was bossy. Knowing him, it was meant as a compliment. But it didn’t feel that way, because that word made me shudder.
I remember the shame I felt. I wasn’t a leader. I was just being bossy. I remember making an effort to shrug it off and carry on because I had a job to do. I filed it away as a critique and strived to be a good leader, not a ‘bossy’ one.
But years later, I think about that moment and about all of the moments before and after that when I would second-guess myself. It was hardly the first time I was called ‘bossy’ or ‘boss.’ The question plagued me constantly. Was I leading or was I being bossy?
That moment and those before and after it are why I am thrilled that #BanBossy is working to change the conversation. I am ashamed of being ashamed. I am a woman who strives to serve as the best leader I can be, who takes critiques in stride so I can always improve. If that makes me bossy, so be it. I know that it also puts me among the growing number of people who want to take back the word, who want to #BanBossy. Let’s eliminate this word’s negative connotations for women and encourage leadership.
To learn more, visit banbossy.com.