What if this didn’t have to be complicated?
Simplifying is a thing I’ve been trying to do, in one way or another, for a while now. Take things off my plate, reduce variables, plan ahead. It hasn’t been an easy process (I value complexity and I also value variety), but it has definitely been worth it. What I’ve found is that it’s much more straightforward to ‘uncomplicate’ external things, harder to address my own impulses to make things complicated.
A while ago (like, pre-pandemic), I added my pronouns to my email signature at work. I think at first it said she/they, and it stayed that way for quite a while. And then at some point, I decided I felt comfortable enough to change it to they/them. I didn’t make an announcement or say anything to anyone, just updated my email and hoped that people would notice. No one did. Or, at least, no one changed the pronouns they used for me and while one person asked about it at one point they quickly fell back into using ‘she/her’ and I didn’t have the confidence/comfort/energy to say anything. It ate away at me, but I wasn’t ready to do anything about it.
For the last few months, I had been thinking that I did want to say something, but I hadn’t been sure how. I thought about having a 1-on-1 conversation with my boss about it, but didn’t feel prepared to field his well intentioned but probably awkward and maybe inappropriate questions. I thought about making an announcement in a leadership meeting. I thought about just correcting someone in a meeting one day and pretending like everyone was supposed to know already. I worried about what I would say to people. How much I should say, whether I should try to be educational or offer to answer questions for them. I kept thinking and worrying and the task of sharing my pronouns at work got more complicated inside my own head.
I was off work for a few days while I attended the Tin House YA Writers Conference (which was so delightfully queer), and my first morning back meant catching up on all the slack messages from while I was out. Over and over again, I kept seeing messages that said something like, “Chelsee is out right now. She’ll get to it when she gets back” “she can answer that” “find out what she thinks.” How exhausting, how dysphoric.
I thought to myself (in my most yell-y inner voice), “I should just post in slack and tell everyone that my pronouns are they & them!” And then I though, “wait, can I just… do that??” I waited a few minutes, I responded to some messages, my heart raced.
And then I decided that yes, I could do that. It didn’t have to be complicated. I updated my display name so all my messages would come from ‘Chelsee [they/them]’, and then I went into the general channel and said, “Hey team! I wanted to let folks know that my personal pronouns are they & them. I updated my display name as an easy reminder since most of you are used to using she/her for me. If you’re not familiar with personal pronouns, here’s a website with explanations and resources https://www.mypronouns.org' — and then I closed my computer and went on lunch.
I think I’ve been harboring a belief that if I found the most perfect way to share my pronouns at work, I would be able to avoid discomfort or pain. But the reality is that I can’t, no matter when or how or if I share. Lots of things are complicated and outside of my control — but the actual words I use, or the format I share them in, don’t have to be.
It’s okay to choose the simplest route. I am trying to remember that.
The Bi Pod will be back in your feeds with full length episodes on February 10th! Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss us! We’ve got a very exciting season planned for you.
We have a phone number now! You can leave us voice messages at (480) 442-1763. That’s (480) Hi Bi Pod.
We are always looking for podcast guests! If you’re interested in being on the show, please fill out this Google form. Feel free to pass the link along to your friends as well.
If you know anyone who may be interested in receiving this newsletter, please forward it to them. We get an adorable animal GIF every time someone subscribes, and it always makes our day!
See you back here in two weeks.
Chelsee & Christina