Was is the lack of sleep? The overindulgence in bad food and candy (which might account for the lack of sleep)? The stress of over- booking an up to now very disorganized life? A slight hormonal imbalance?
What ever the cause, Thursday and Friday were not good days. My brain blew small nuggets out of proportion, and I spent way too much of time obsessing over what my classmates thought of me, possibly imagining things and over-reacting. The phrase, what the fuck am I doing here? drifted across my mind a few times.
I think what it comes down to is that after 12 years of working with women in a highly feminist environment, it’s a bit of a culture shock to turn 180 degrees and be around men and men only, some of whom will argue there’s no gender bias in using the word “he” in a sentence that is meant to convey both genders. Throw in teachers who ignore the duality of the class, and talk about things like distractions of “crop tops and shortie shorts” as if that applies to all of us.
Luckily there were two events that stopped my brain from spiralling. The first was a great presentation given by Laurie Craig of Clear Valley Hops. She and her husband John, started Clear Valley Hops in 2010, and her presentation went through all of the trials and tribulations they encountered as they built their business. After, we all went out and took at look at Niagara College’s new hop yard, and it was clear that the woman knew her stuff after four years in the industry.
After two days thinking about gender biases, it was amusing to go to Sensory Evaluation class and talk about more bias, this time of the sensory kind. Notes were taken furiously by everyone. Apparently some biases are believable; others not so much.
I left as soon as class was over and made my way home to Toronto, stopping close to home to visit the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies. I could feel some of the stress lift off me as I walked up the stairs of the Jam Factory and into the hum of women drinking beer and having a great time. I was back among my tribe.
The environment wasn’t all that conducive to long conversations (hey, there was beer drinkin’ to be done!), but I managed to get hugs from my pals Erica and Jenn, and have some very good chats with Robin LeBlanc, Ren Navarro and Kristen MacDonald from Muskoka Brewery.
Just what I needed. I was finally able to quell the self doubt, put a damper on the emotions and realize that the only way I am going to make it through the next 15 months of school is to just be the my own weird, feminist self. Once more I had made the mistake of worrying about what people thought about me; that way lies madness as I well know.
And has change ever come from people trying to fit in?