Fired for being fat (kind of)

I fired myself this week – for being too fat.

Fat might not be the right word. I’m predominantly larger in one area – at 21 weeks pregnant it’s no longer a secret to anyone who sees me that I’m rapidly creating an exciting new addition to our family.

Which I’m so over the moon about.

And yet – I caught myself being chastised by a former staff mate and friend over the Christmas break for admitting to hiding my growing belly from new people I encountered at work.

How ridiculous she told me – in this day and age that you feel the need to do that. And the more I thought about it the more I realised how much effort I was putting into thinking about how to disguise my pregnancy. Each morning I’d dress for work and wonder if I arched my back this way, or wore that, or didn’t get seen from that angle or breathed in deeply if it was obvious to the casual observer that I was pregnant.

Why? Because part of my role involves pitching for new business for our property management company. At each pitch I always explain that our company policy is that at least two people look after every property – so no client expects to only deal with me every day for an eternity, but yet I still felt the need to hide and hunch even though I’m not planning on going on leave for four months!

It’s taken me a while or so to get my head around writing this blog and I’m still not exactly sure the message I’m trying to get across (sometimes I just write and see if it comes to me as my fingers type).

I’ve got two opposing counterpoints running through my brain.

The one that fired me from that role of the job (pitching for new business with clients I don’t have a personal relationship/referral to) this week – because who wants someone who’s clearly pregnant and going to be having time off from work soon to pitch for their long-term business.

And then there’s the one that knows that I’m actually significantly better at my job since having my first child.

Since my two-year-old bundle of flurry, wonder and chattering glory blew into my life, I’ve become:

  • more organised – and that’s a lot for me, because I was pretty organised beforehand, but that old saying about ‘if you want something done, give it to someone busy’ has never been more true.
  • better able to prioritise, distance myself and see the big picture of what’s really important and not focus on minutia as much.
  • better able to counteract my own shortcomings through systems. I discovered about midway through my first pregnancy that “baby brain” wasn’t something ludicrous my pregnant friends made up (made readily clear when I missed three appointments in a row because my old system of simply remembering them no longer worked) – so ever since then I just put two back-up systems in place for every meeting and haven’t missed a single one.
  • and not that it directly relates to me pitching for new business – but I know I’ve become a better employer to the mums who work with me. In the same way that I’ve always said someone who is an investor themselves makes a better property manager, someone who is a working parent is better able to understand the unique and beautiful complications of wanting to be a great worker and a great parent.

So where does that leave me? Well, it leaves me with still well over three months left to work; and with an amazing team that will look after every client while I am on leave after the arrival of bub number two. It leaves me questioning my decision to fire myself, but not quite ready to rehire me – yet. And it leaves me wondering what I would do if a property manager clearly pregnant pitched for my business – with me knowing I’d want a long-term relationship with them.

What would you do?

Kirsty Dunphey is the youngest ever Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, author of two books and a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business at age 15 and opened her own real estate agency at 21.

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