In nature, I am just a person. I am as flesh and bone as the birds in the trees, the worms in the soil and the bats in the sky. In nature I am a giant to ground dwellers and a midget to tree dwellers. I am neither too big nor too small for my surroundings, I am neither better nor worse than those around me and I am not judged nor valued within my environment. In nature, I simply just am.
Unfortunately, the constructs of human society do not mirror the laws of nature. The premise of survival of the fittest is contradicted by the presence and use of hospitals and welfare programs and the premise of niches is corrupted by the fact that we seem to thrive everywhere despite what used to live where we wish to establish ourselves. In the world of humans, you can be too small, too big, and you can definitely be judged and valued by those around you. In the human world, it is not just enough to be, but rather you are encouraged to spend your whole life being better.
It was written on the wall of my first job in my field in big blue letters. Those two words haunted me every day reminding me that I was never good enough, I was never all I could be. That evil phrase “BE BETTER” loomed over me as I lit the fire at 5am to make everyone breakfast and when I returned at 9pm from my last data collection walk of the day. No matter how much I did or how hard I tried in my position, I could always be better. Who I was was never enough.
Sitting at the airport on my way back to Australia, before a life of running water, electricity, wifi and a loving harem of family and friends, I wrote a final blog. I told the world that I was stronger, I knew what I was capable of and I was going to try my best to help animals in the tourism industry. I had forgotten about those big blue letters and all I cared about was being good enough and strong enough to continue on my own journey and I believed that I was more than capable. At that moment, I didn’t need to be any better than I was. I found this blog the other day having realized that I had in fact been strong enough and capable enough. I reflected on the organisation I started called “Heroic Tourism” which aims to conserve animals in the tourism industry, I thought back to all the successes that have come from that and all the people who have joined me in my journey. I read my foreshadowing words with a smile, I believed I was good enough and low and behold, I was right.
Years later I found myself in a new job where once again I was never good enough for my bosses. All my values were wrong and I was constantly having to stand up for my rights as a woman, surprisingly this job was not in another country, but in a small town here in Australia. Even more surprisingly, the misogynous person I was battling against was also a woman. I ended up taking responsibility for the whole business, the property, the house, looking after the kids and dealing with correspondence from other businesses who wanted to collaborate while my bosses went overseas. On their return I was exhausted, but as I picked them up from the airport as my final duty from their absence, instead of being greeted with warmth and gratitude, I was greeted with a lecture on how I should have cleaned the bathroom.
A week ago I found myself in a meeting for a job opportunity whereby the interviewer asked me about the situation and how I resolved it. I was granted the opportunity based on the way I handled that situation and my attitude toward conflict resolution. What once was my living nightmare was now a gateway to new exciting opportunities in exactly the field I want to work in. I was no longer a slave to to the anxiety and trauma caused by my stay in that position and more so, I was vindicated by my actions thereby relieving me into a new world of possibilities. Once again I had come out of a bad situation stronger and more equipped to take on whatever I endeavoured to embark on.
On my days off, I often find myself compelled to walk for as long and as far as I can and in this time I spend a moment to reflect on the people I have been. I am not the sum of the values bestowed upon me by people who do not believe in me, but instead I am the sum of all the belief I bestow upon myself. Those big blue letters on the wall are laughable, and only reflect the thoughts and feelings of those who wrote them. I know for sure that all the people who have employed me that don’t treat me with the respect I deserve are not the best versions of themselves and I hope that everyone who works with them in the future doesn’t kill themselves trying to be better, but knows deep in their hearts that they are good enough, at least in natures eyes anyway.