My entire professional life is rooted in understanding that there will always be multiple perspectives and sides to every story, to every view of a scenario or situation, but that neither are fully right or fully wrong. You see, when your profession began and grew in Human Resources, you are taught to believe that the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. The hard part is that from a young age, we’re often made to believe we have to pick a side. When we pick a side, the side we’re on fully supports you. The other side misunderstands you, questions you, and may even alienate you. As an HR professional, it’s actually your job to remain neutral, while staying curious, assertive, and grounded. The reality of an HR professional is that there is never a right or wrong perspective, and that responding and making decisions requires understanding both. It takes time to unlearn to side-pick, and once you do, it’s engrained in you.

Today, this past year in particular,  I believe we have been placed at the epicenter of conflicting, and often fear based information, anecdotes, and media. Constantly consuming information, feeling social pressure to react, respond, and reply in the moment. Creating divide, and pushing loved ones apart, figuratively and literally, has allowed for vulnerability and fear based judgements. Many of us have felt manipulated by our government leaders, lost trust in our instincts, and felt shame for not finding conviction in the majority opinions. Personally, I have never felt more misunderstood for leaning into my instincts, questioning all of the narratives, or staying in the middle as best I could on topics that were forcing us to pick sides.

It wasn’t until recently I forgave myself for struggling to find my words with the people I cared about that were desperate to understand me. While I should have proudly articulated that I wasn’t allowing myself to get distracted by fear, by agendas, and conflicting information, I felt defensive. I felt frustrated by my lack of confidence, and it surprised me that me, of all people, struggled to ground myself in the midst of chaos.

The ironic part in all of this is that I coach women in business to find their voice, connect with their convictions, own their authenticity, and evolve themselves despite what others may think of them.  Yet, I had forgotten to personally absorb these fundamentals myself more often than not this past year. And I’ve forgiven myself for that.

Here’s the thing. I will always work, both personally and professionally, to encourage women to stand up for what they believe in, myself included. I will encourage us to support each other and our different thoughts, feelings and life experiences. I will discourage the picking of sides, the division, and the labeling that our leadership and our government often depends on in order to control our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. I will proudly sit in the middle of diverse mindsets and views. I will remind us that we are evolving, multi-faceted beings that can and should change our minds with new information. I will support our evolving conversations, and encourage us to safely go beneath the surface. I will curiously work to understand, and I will accept you. I will accept you when we see the world the same, and I will accept you especially when we don’t.