Bad Bish Network

September 6th, 2017.


6-ish o’clock.


I’ve parked my car on State Street and shoved every silver coin I can pick up with my acrylic nails into a meter.


1:28 is all I get.


“That’s fine,” I think to myself.


I shove my sunglasses onto my face, spritz some perfume onto my neck, smooth my dress out, and begin to model-walk to my destination: Serendipity Labs.


I am in full on networking mode.


I pass a sleeping homeless man behind the ticket booth at the Ohio Theatre. I wonder why he’s sleeping at 6pm. I keep walking.

I catch my reflection in every store front window. I correct my posture and mess with my hair. I keep walking.

I am careful to keep my neck straight and chin high and stride long. I keep walking.


I am in full on networking mode.


The intensity of my entrance gives way to a gracious, bubbly smile as I walk into the event space. I acknowledge new faces and recognize familiar faces. I make sure everyone sees my face.

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I shake hands and slap on a name tag and ask everyone what they do and how their day has gone and what they’re drinking and if they’ve been here before and can you BUH-LIEVE its already fall?!


I am in full on networking mode.

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The event begins. I’m sitting in the front row next to the woman who introduced me to this world; to this mode. I’m making intentional eye contact with the speakers. I nod when it makes sense and smile when my gaze meets someone else’s. I’m taking notes and ignoring notifications on my phone and being conscious of my posture and facial expressions.


I am in full on networking mode.


After the entire room introduces themselves to one another, Erin offers an opening that snaps me out of networking mode. These women that I have been schmoozing and shaking hands and giving hugs and offering waves and winks and rubbing elbows with will not be one and done. There will be no more “Hi, I’m Kelsea and I’m a social media manager.” or “hey girl, didn’t I see you at that CYP thing?” I will be on a personal and career development journey with all of these ladies for the next 10 months. And that journey is starting, meow.


I am in full on panic mode.


We break from the speaking-space into small groups. I am in, perhaps, the smallest group, with another Kelsey. Our conversation goes from “Oh nice name,” to, “oh, I’m really passionate about diversifying my workplace as well,” to, “yeah you should totally run for a political office.”


Yeah. Wtf.


I look back around the space. I look down at my heels. I think back about the homeless dude sleeping behind the ticket booth. I wonder if my stomping woke him up. I wonder what happened to the confidence I had before I walked into this. I look back into the eyes of my Fellow Kels. She’s opening up to me about a lot. Her vulnerable eyes are asking for empathy, not for a resolution. I feel way more connected to her than I did when I read her nametag.


I acknowledge my breath. I acknowledge that vulnerability/empathy are way more important to me, in this moment than confidence. That relationships are better than schmoozing. That looking into someone’s eyes and relating to them and silently vowing to just be there is bringing me more joy than my new dress or my San Pellegrino or my open-toed-slingbacks.


I have shed networking mode.


I have put on sisterhood.

I have put on empathy.

I have put on courage.


I am in Bad Bish mode.


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