It's been a long time since I talked about my job on the blog but I have had some questions about it and thought it was a good time to share.
About two years ago I made a very difficult decision to leave behind my traditional career path.
I am a cultural anthropologist and spent nearly a decade working on both my degree, internships, jobs, and ultimately building a career for myself in museum work. And guess what? It turned out to be the worst time of my life both personally and professionally.
While I worked hard towards decolonization and the efforts towards restructuring the industry with a group of amazing colleagues, I found the museum world overall to be a corrupt and emotionally draining space. It is after all a world built upon (for hundreds of year) stolen objects from various cultures, masking itself as educational and enriching.
Old mindsets are hard to change, and I found myself at odds and with my back against the wall several times. I worked for an organization, that shall remain nameless, which claimed to be doing the work towards decolonizing these spaces, they still do claim this. They call themselves an industry leader... though the things I saw and heard as an insider taught me otherwise.
The reason I kept going for so long was because I worked with some of the most amazing and brilliant people I've ever know. These wonderful humans worked their asses off in the industry, trying to break barriers everyday, and many of them still are. These good people and myself went into the work with the best of intentions, but had to face “no’s” every single day, all the while being asked by the people in power to present a facade and image of active decolonization work. Work I don't believe was actually being done. But again, that's my opinion.
After several years, it had taken a toll on my health and mind. I saw real people, specifically the indigenous community I worked closely with, both on the reservation and off, being treated in poor ways and I couldn’t take it anymore. It also brought to light the lack of representation of people of color and Natives in museum leadership. As a woman of color who can pass as white, I found this to be a very gross part of the industry. I was made part-of and overheard many conversations within the hiring and promotion decisions that made me want to throw up. Racism and prejudices in business are so real!
I actively worked with HR and sought out both mentorship and conversation with the leaders in the business about better practices. Basically I was asking them to practice what they already said they were doing. I mean... they were claiming these practices in national magazines, newspapers, journal articles, and on the news but inside it wasn't actually what was happening. Afterwards, I was penalized and targeted for this.
At that point, I left a higher paying role and title, and took a job at a different museum to try and continue the work elsewhere, but found the industry overall to be too stuck in its ways. Too many white and white-appearing people in power who claimed to be allies, while making decisions from the top-down that would continue oppressing the communities they claimed to be working for. I hated feeling like I had to "play the game" in order to potentially get one small victory.
Decolonization in itself is an act of admission of ignorance and wrong-doing. These are based on Euro-centric ideologies that continue today due to how deeply colonialism has affected our day-to-day practices. This was a place I found very few people in power would actively acknowledge, although it's what they would go on the news and do an interview about.
What had I spent all of those years working towards? Had I even done a thing to help?
These were hard questions to ask myself and reflect on. The toll this took on me actually hurt inside. I found myself with a bitterness and anger at the world I had never felt before. Mostly, I felt lost. But I knew what I needed to do.
I had to QUIT MY JOB.
With no clue what I was going to do next, I decided to remember all of the things I still loved and wanted to just get back to enjoying life again. It's not all a dark and hard place. I remembered how much I loved music, fashion, home decor, and crafts. Parts of myself that made me a full human. So I sought out experiences that would be focused on those things, and something amazing happened.
I found myself in a new career which went back to one of my first loves: Fashion.
For the past two years I have worked as a fashion stylist and spend my weeks styling real clients of all budgets, body types, and ages from all 50 states. I work for an amazing company that has a diverse executive team, as well as one of the most inclusive and diverse staff I have ever seen. I have worked from the comfort of my home everyday and have been so lucky to find a job I not only truly enjoy, but can honestly say I LOVE.
I found that the empathy, love of different cultures, and how uniquely different people are, which made me want to be an anthropologist in the first place where being applied more in my fashion career than they ever did in my jobs at the museum. Best part is most of the time it doesn’t even feel like I'm working!
Being privileged enough to spend the majority of my waking hours doing something I love makes me feel a deep gratitude for life, and the diversity of the business has helped me regain hope that our world can move in the right direction. I wish for every person to find their bliss and passion.