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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

I Dampened My Emotions Because Society Told Me Women are Too Emotional... And Society Was Wrong

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

I am fiercely passionate about the Global Goals. Actually, I am fiercely passionate about sustainability in general. I am passionate about entrepreneurship. I am passionate about good food. I am passionate about football. I am passionate about music...

I am a passionate person.

There are a number of things in life about which I feel incredibly strongly. Some of them matter; some of them really don't.

As a young female businesswoman, I am conscious of the whole "women are too emotional to be successful leaders" line that got thrown around as I was growing up. When I was a child, the movement for women in leadership roles wasn't nearly as strong as it is now.

This means that every now and then I check myself. I question whether I should be feeling so strongly about something. Am I too passionate? Am I too emotional? Will people respect me as a leader if they see this side of me?

Of course, there is a line between responding and reacting. I respond emotionally to a lot of situations because I am an intense personality. However, I do not react emotionally to these. I might fly off the handle and yell and stamp my feet to my family and friends over some work drama. I might even draft an email response in a blank word document, filled with colourful language, which I would never in a million years send. But my actions are never out of emotion. They are thought-out and careful, but they consider my emotional response.

After some health battles over the past few months, I tried to put a lot of my emotions on the back-burner because I just didn't have the capacity for it. Usually, I scream my way through football season, yelling at the players through the TV in my living room as if I was an all-time great coach. Instead, this season, I kept updated with the scores on my phone and merely shrugged and rolled my eyes as the opposition's score crept higher week after week. I didn't cause the neighbours to call the police; I didn't exhaust myself from sitting in one spot for three hours; I didn't even make a pros and cons list on burning my team's merchandise. I was utterly apathetic.

I use the football example because it is now the end of the home-and-away season, and I am going to have to wait another six months to feel that slightly psychotic rush of adrenaline from watching a few people kick a ball around on a field (or, in my team's case, watching a few people fail to kick a ball around on a field).

My work on the other hand is constant. Recently, I've felt I've been lacking motivation. And I've had to ask myself why.

It all stems from trying to separate myself from my emotions.

The reality is that's just not me. I'm not the person to shrug my shoulders and move on. I care loudly and strongly about things. Yes, it may drive the people close to me, both personally and professionally, absolutely insane. But my passion comes with it's own merits.

My passion means I don't let things slide because they're too difficult. I know what is right, and I fight for that. Whether or not these issues are deserving of my time, I care enough about them to give my time. And I shouldn't stop doing that. I shouldn't stop caring because when I stop caring, I become lazy and apathetic. And I face an identity crisis because I am neither a lazy nor apathetic person.

My passion means I will not give up on a goal, even when everyone else and the universe seems to have put up road blocks to my success. If I want something, you better believe I am going to make it there. Because my passion makes me determined. Without passion, I just give up.

My passion means I am fun and sometimes even funny. I am dangerously spontaneous in my personal life and ready to jump at challenges in my professional life. I don't overthink things and follow my heart because my heart usually points me in the right direction. Sure, sometimes it doesn't. But I don't believe I make any more mistakes by following my heart than another person would by following their head. No matter how much you plan and think through details, you can never plan for the unexpected. However, if you are truly passionate about something, your heart will carry you through even the worst hardships to achieve your goal. And yes, my passion gives my friends, family and colleagues something to giggle about as I can get worked up over something very insignificant. Today's drama was over whether or not to buy an unnecessary quantity of yarn I like because it is on sale until Tuesday. My love for knitting made this a way bigger decision than it needed to be, and the people in my life who heard about it got a laugh from it (because I did blow it way out of proportion - but that's part of my charm I guess...).

My passion means I do things. During a recent time of self-reflection, I pondered whether or not I wanted to give up the life I have for something more stable and more secure - a regular 9 to 5. The whole idea of it freaked me out for a number of reasons. The primary fear I had, however, was around my creativity being stifled. Now, I wouldn't describe myself as an overly creative person, but my creativity is driven by my passion. The more passionate I am about something, the more creative ideas I come up with to achieve what I want to achieve. Without passion, I would never have started the Global Goals Australia Campaign, never have even considered Strategic Sustainability Consultants and GNX Leaders would have been a far-off fairytale. If I am not passionate about something, I won't be creative in my approach.

My passion means I can do anything. This looks like an exaggeration, but it really isn't. I can become so passionate about the smallest, silliest thing that I can become an expert on it if I put my heart to it. My knowledge of sustainability is, at the core, sourced from my passion. I didn't go to school to study sustainability. Books, podcasts, YouTube videos, newspaper articles, Twitter conversations, magazines, you name it... all of them have been my education on sustainability. My passion has led me to research these things like crazy. My passion is what can keep me up late enough trying to work on a new DJing technique or finding the perfect word for that song lyric. My passion is what makes my capabilities limitless.

My passion means I will be successful. If I decide I'm going to do something, I will do it right. I will put in hours and hours of time to be the best I can be and to make a significant contribution to my own life, the lives of those close to me and the lives of other people in society. My passion is what has led me to this point and will guide me out of any failures to come.

Passion is what makes great leaders. Passion is what makes success stories. Passion is what makes me who I am.


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