If I had to pick one word to describe this week, it would be productive.
It feels like this week put me on fast-forward.
After hitting the reset button, I returned to work with a clear mind and have been so productive at work and at home.
Even the worst of the pregnancy symptoms have eased, and I am feeling a lot less sick and enjoying the process of growing my second child.
My first pregnancy was wracked with anxiety, but this time, I am doing my best to enjoy it.
It will be my last pregnancy, and it’s bittersweet.
On IG things are changing, and after quitting TikTok to focus on my sole social media account, I have revamped it to embody more of who I am.
That includes diving head-first into trade advocacy again after some very rude DM’s.
Accepting hate from strangers is one thing, however, having previous coworkers offer their unsolicited two-cents was a different kind of hurt.
They have all since been blocked and deleted.
For every person that has said something negative to me about becoming a millwright, there have been several others who support, encourage and are willing to teach me.
Thanks to them, I have enjoyed my work in the skilled trades for nearly a decade now.
“There is always going to be that guy,” a mentor told me very early on, and he wasn’t wrong.
There will be.
Despite that, I have exceeded my expectations when it comes to becoming a tradesperson.
When I first started, I could not tell you what fractions were, what measuring or power tools were, or what anything was.
It felt like I had been dropped in the middle of a foreign country, and everyone knew the language except for me. It was intimidating.
I remember using measuring and power tools for the first time. Or welding, grinding and cutting steel with a torch at first.
All of it scared the shit out of me, until it became second nature to put these things in my hands.
Sometimes we just need a little bravery and belief in ourselves for things become like magic.
My experiences have wholly shaped me.
On my first day in steel manufacturing, us apprentices were loaded into a truck and wheeled off to a close-by work site.
The first thing that I noticed was a giant man carrying a pipe over his shoulder and I thought “Oh, shit. I fucked up. I should NOT be here.”
At lunchtime, I had voiced my concern and an older man said to me “Kid, you belong here just as much as we do. We will keep you safe, you have nothing to worry about.” He was right.
That was my first taste of inclusivity and it reassured me going forward.
Later on while still new, I was asked to draw out dimensions for a part we needed fabricated.
I had no idea what to do.
My math skills were still in development as I’d neglected them over writing-based ones, and I could not perform the task for my journeyman.
He looked towards another coworker and said…
“So this is the kind of apprentice they’re sending us now? We are fucked!” with a hearty laugh to accompany his cruel comment.
I walked away, feelings hurt, but not discouraged.
In a separate instance, I had joined-in on torqueing a 10-foot bearing that was being installed on a turret, which was heavy physically, despite my being the smallest apprentice.
Hand-torqueing using a torque wrench requires strength (in this case) as opposed to using an impact gun, but it was necessary in dealing with our given sensitive specs (ft/lbs).
The journeyman that I had been assigned to that week looked up and said “If she wants to be a millwright, I will give her millwright work all-right.”
He then directed me to rotate-in.
I did my part despite the obvious struggle, and it was only afterwards that I found out that some of my coworkers had reported discrimination.
My answer to leadership who questioned why I was silent about the experience was:
“There’s always going to be that guy. He doesn’t affect my pay and I don’t really care. I learned a lot, and it was a good workout.”
Working for a company that is willing to teach you, empower you and honor your differences is crucial to success in any career.
It is not the 1970’s anymore and the mindset that came along with the trade at that time is rapidly disappearing.
Maybe not everywhere, but there are places that are advancing, and those are the ones you apply to. My experience has been largely positive.
I have worked hard to become a mechanical maintenance planner, and now I utilize both my mechanical skills and secretarial ones by writing technical work orders for the millwrights.
Playing to my strengths and striving to become an encouraging mentor to others like many in the past have done for me is crucial, and I welcome people who come from all walks of life.
There will always be that guy…
But there will always be this girl, too.
© 2019 KayNotto
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