We’re over a month into the new year, but I’m still determined to hold on to that New Year Energy. I’m not naïve enough to believe that 2022 will be radically different from the previous two years. If this is our “new normal,” then we must do our best to adjust and excel despite the challenges.
That’s a familiar concept for those that struggled to enter and sustain themselves in spaces where they were made to feel like they didn’t belong. Women, people of color, differently-abled and neurodiverse individuals, particularly in the tech space, must sometimes fight to maintain their space. These fights are exhausting. These fights are sometimes lost. And lost fights can be extremely demoralizing. Which begs the question: why continue to do it? Why continue to put yourself through these kinds of challenges?
When times are particularly tough, I know it’s important to do two things. One, take a mental health day. The ability to take a day off from work is a privilege not all of us share. If you do have it, please take it, or the mental health half-day, or the mental health hour. Do what you can to take care of yourself. The second thing I try to do when things are particularly tough is to reconnect with my “why.”
The “why” is a response to the questions I posed above. For me, I choose to stay in the tech industry because I cannot think of another professional opportunity that keeps me engaged, challenged, and excited. Tech uses my interests, skills, and passions far more than any other opportunity. Hopefully, we all have a career that engages us in these ways while also providing an opportunity to make a living. Technology is that space for me.
Because I love being in this space, I must push myself to create solutions for the challenges I face. When someone is happy to give advice but not advocate, I must use my platform and voice to advocate in every moment that presents itself.
When I feel isolated because I am the only person in the room who looks like me, I must connect with others that have a similar experience as my own. And I need to connect with others that have slightly different experiences, understanding that while I may not have a precise understanding of what it’s like to be a particular ethnicity or to be differently-abled or neurodiverse, I do know what it’s like to be the only one in the room.
When I feel like I must work harder than everyone else to be taken seriously, I must find the resources that boost my skills and the professional spaces where my hard work and experience is recognized and prized.
None of these things are easy, and it adds more work to the work that we already do. But those moments of success, of completing a major project, solving an elusive problem, or seeing a friend succeed make it worthwhile. The last point should not be lost. I feel energized and inspired, in part, because I hope I am making a difference for someone else out there. I don’t have all the answers, and I try not to pretend like I do, but I do try to sustain the conversations necessary for us to work toward the answers we need.
So, my “why” is not just from personal and professional fulfillment. My “why” is also because it is an opportunity to serve others. So, thank you for giving me that chance.