Years of looking down


I was working out the other day doing step ups. This is an exercise that I have been doing for the past two years. Starting with no weights and working my way up to what I believe to be more than enough weights. It has been pointed out to me when I work out is that I constantly look down. At every session I am reminded that I need to look up as this will increase the effectiveness of my workout. I can’t. I simply can’t look at myself and watch me as I drive forward, as I improve myself and grow stronger. And this time, at this workout, I started to ask myself why. Why had I for years chosen to look down?

You know our habits are driven from experiences – good, bad and indifferent. All of our experiences and interactions serve to define the individuals who we become. We however hold the balance of control over how we will internalize and manifest those experiences. I look down. Years of being told I was too bold, too loud, and/or too harsh. Years of being reminded that one should know their place and not step out of line has driven me to look down. Even now, as I hold a position of authority and have the respect of my team, peers and leaders, I still look down. Working at Purolator has afforded me a tremendous peer network that challenges me to look up; reminding me constantly the value I bring to the table.

What has driven me to look down as I try to teach my own daughters to look up? What has given me this sense that I am never on strong enough footing to feel confident in my steps? I wonder about this and then I ponder the sure-footedness that others have, and the assuredness that comes from knowing where you have come from and understanding the journeys that have preceded you to pave the way for you in your journey. The knowledge of ancestry and bloodlines that infuses one with a sense of pride and can mark the ability for you to look up – that is what has been lacking in some ways and has had me looking down.

As we forge ahead in our roles in business and society as a whole it is incumbent upon each of us to find our strength and confidence to look up. It is also our role to challenge those who are looking down themselves to look up, to be confident in who they are and what they can do – we all benefit from every individual knowing their worth and striving to fulfill it.

As we close out our celebration of Black History Month we should keep in mind the value that is gained from one’s knowledge of their ancestry in ascribing self-worth. Yes we all chart our own path, but a sense of culture and history gives us grounding in who we are, what our potential is and where we draw our sense of pride.

Where do you find your source for looking up?

2 Responses to Years of looking down
  1. Anonymous Reply

    Thank you Karen for a well written and revealing blog. Your story brought me back to the days when I used to walk to school alone with my head down — maybe because I was shy but maybe because I had a different skin colour than my peers. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and be called a racial slur — P–i was popular at the time. I was a happy but very unconfident child. Being one of only a few minorities only made my lack of self-confidence worse. As I look back I think “Thank God those days are over, and that multiculturalism is alive and well now.” Life is all about building confidence in ourselves and others. I’m so glad you are teaching your girls what’s important in life. Thanks again Karen.

  2. Anonymous Reply

    Wow, thank you.

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.