I sat across from my parents and told them "I am getting a divorce." You see, as a first generation Macedonian, this news was devastating. Not only was this "wrong," this was just the beginning of the change my life was about to take on. My coming of age happened during a six year marriage. I was not only getting a divorce, I was coming out as a lesbian woman in a close ethnic family. Many things could have caused me to lean back; the shame, the embarrassment, the rumors my family would endure and the reputation my family worked so hard to foster within this community.
As a young mother of two fabulous children, I was at a cross roads with myself: The parent I wanted to be and the woman I was. They seemed to have two different paths. I needed to course correct. So I did. Leaning in was my only option if I wanted to raise two young contributors to society that would be loving, kind, accepting and authentic to who they would become.
I went through with the divorce and began my new life with my children and had tons of conversations of what being "gay" meant, with tons of different people in my life. Each conversation led to a stronger me and a brighter path that was finally aligning. Before long, my career and my personal life began to take on meaningful actions. Everything from courage to ask for what I want in my performance reviews at work to listening to my children share with their friends that it is okay to be gay.
My career and family aspirations have all been grounded in the action I took over ten years ago; going through a divorce, coming out, becoming a single parent, continuing on with my passionate career of communications. My life continues to change and unfold, layer upon layer, and when I feel scared or nervous about a decision that requires deep courage. I think about the days shortly after I leaned in to come out, and the joy I felt in my heart that I was finally me, the real me...well, I naturally lean in some more.