Despite being college educated by an upper crust private school, I still sound Texan. I can't help it and I certainly don't want to help it. I never want to sound like anything other than what I am. A proud Texan.
Sometimes, though, I'm aware that it sets me back in discussions, deliberations and other dealin's. Before I left my job as an event planner, I took on one of the program's most challenging projects ever. An over-sized, outdoor event in the height of tornado season. Somehow we made it through with what I hope was my own unwavering leadership backed by a towering presence and powerful awareness of self. Puhh.
No. It was more like paddling up a creek in a torrentual rainstorm. Its sad but true that Texans aren't always taken seriously in serious matters. I feel that's true in Dallas. A wonderful melting pot of a city. Dallas is a hub of business and commerce that becomes less traditionally Texan every year. The city is awash with opportunity and folks are rushing to get here from all over the states, the world.
Sure, we Texans have a commanding presence. Perhaps in regards to cattle ranching, farming and contraction creation we're given our due and are highly regarded a source of knowledge in such things. But, I'm not sure we're considered "smart". I think the most that the rest of the world will give us is "shrewd," and that's not good enough.
While leading the charge on the planning of this event, I could tell that it took a while for some of the folks from the outside services we hired to take me seriously. I have a slight accent, use Texan-style turns of phrase, am pretty straight forward, quick to shut down ideas that seem to take us off course and occasionally would throw in an "ain't" here and there to make an exaggerated point. I might as well have slapped on a pink cowboy hat and some sequined cowboy boots and danced the two-step.
At least it would have been a complete caricature of how they saw me.
I tell you what... nine times out of ten I can tell you who in the room is not from Texas. They're the ones looking at me with a smirk and raised eyebrows as if I were a kid that walked in on the adult's conversation wearing a pair of too-big britches and her momma's high heels. A young woman with a countrified accent is just bound to be dumb, right?
Well... They finally figured out that I knew what I was talking about, knew what I wanted from them and that I wasn't going to accept mediocrity. They also knew they were going to get a smile and a joke out of me every time we met.
Somehow they needed to balance it all, though, and it took some time to do that.
I may be Texan, folks. But, I ain't stupid.