“Damn girl.”

Today has been an incredible day.

I have had the opportunity to learn from Senior VPs and CMOs of massive corporations. I have learned about the importance of adaptability in the workplace and what top-tier outlets are looking for in potential employees. I witnessed the unveiling of a street sign in honor of an esteemed and influential woman in public relations.

But one incident has overshadowed my memorable, adrenaline-filled day. All it took was a phrase; two mere one-syllable words eradicated the high I was on from learning more about my field and meeting some of the most inspiring practitioners I will ever encounter.

“Damn girl.”

You know, I’ve heard plenty of things from passersby. More than likely, I have my headphones in to drown out the sexist, lewd, creepy (insert adjective of your choice here) comments.

After a 6:05 a.m. train ride into the city, a few hours at the office, an event commemorating a strong advocate for female empowerment, a conference where I was able to expand my knowledge of the field I have grown to love, and a train ride back to the suburbs, I decided to walk to the grocery store and pick up dinner.

As I approached the store, I walked with all the confidence in the world. I was literally buzzing with excitement from the day.

“Damn girl,” said the guy walking past me. Usually I would just roll my eyes and keep walking, paying absolutely no mind. Today was different though. The way he said it made my skin crawl. I immediately stopped; it seemed like I wasn’t even in control of my body at this point.

“Excuse me?”

……nothing. No response. No hesitation from his end; in fact he quickened his pace.

Couples and families chatted with each other prior to this exchange at the tables outside the grocery store. Now they were quiet. As I got closer to the doors, I could feel my fists were clenched and my face told the tale of frustration.

I always feel vulnerable. I’ve been in a few uncomfortable situations in the city, but I never expected to feel so exposed outside my front door. I like to think I’m developing a thicker skin each day for these types of incidents.

Today isn’t a wash by any means because of two simple words, but I feel compelled to write about my walk to the grocery store.

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