Story Spotlight: Jill Poulton
Write a mini bio about yourself.
I once was lost and now am found. Lost my way of being me in all the doing because my feminine qualities were not valued for far too long, by far too many. I found my strength by embracing who I am, by rising above false expectations, and by guiding women into more authentic relationships with self and others.
Share a story that's shaped who you are as a person.
When I was 16 years old I went to the Yukon for a 6 week Wilderness Leadership Course. I was one of 4 females in a group of 32. It was a rigorous program – 5 of the 6 weeks we were out in the wilderness. No toilets, no showers, carrying everything we needed on our backs. We climbed mountains, we white-water canoed, we encountered wildlife. Bears were daily sightings. The whole experience was exhilarating! My body, mind, and spirit were tested like never before (or since).
I was training with guys from all over Canada, UK, and Germany. In the first 2 weeks, two of the girls went home, as did several of the boys. The program was too much for them so they quit, or for a few because of injury. The chatter that ensued whenever someone succeeded or failed an endeavour was fascinating to observe. The interpretations and judgements these young minds would conjure up about each other impacted me greater than I realized at the time.
Almost every day one of the guys would say something to me along the lines of, “You know, Jill, you do pretty good for a girl. You don’t whine or complain, you pull your weight, and you’re keeping pace with the rest of us.” I pushed myself hard because I felt the need to prove myself worthy of the challenge. Of the 16 to compete the program, I was the only girl.
What did you learn about yourself or others based on that story?
At the time, I learned that as a female I have to work harder than my male counter parts to be noticed, to be seen as worthy. When someone would say to me, "you can't do that" or "girls can't do that", my response was always "F@%$ you, watch me!" The intensity to prove them wrong drove me to be an over-achiever. The more I achieved or accomplished, the more confident I got. Later in my life, I discovered that having a foundation like that built out of the bricks thrown at me, was full of cracks waiting to crumble.
How did it change the way you viewed the world?
For a long time the experience skewed my view of the world, it warped my sense of femininity, and it caused me to look down on other women. Eventually this caught up with me, and I needed to do a lot of inner work to rewire my brain, reframe my thinking, and recondition my internal programming. Now, I see and embrace all of me, which in turn allows me to see and embrace the wholeness of others.
What advice would you give to others?
You are not your programming, you are so much more.
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