Defeated and disappointed, I opened the door to my apartment and told my partner that I didn't get the position I wanted.
"You let them talk you out of it, huh?" he said.
"... Yes." I replied quietly.
"Loey, you're so empathetic you can get caught up in what others want - even if that means sacrificing what you want. You and I know you'd be great in that role. You're completely capable and totally qualified," he said.
It hurt to hear that but I knew he was right. Not only did I let empathy sabotage my goals, I let it alter the way I thought about myself. I walked into that discussion feeling clear, capable and confident. I walked out feeling insecure and overwhelmed. That person needed something that conflicted with what I needed and instead of standing my ground, I chose to appease them and let them make the call-both about my career path and about who I was.
How were we on such different wavelengths? I've found that the bigger teams get, the more change there is and the less connected people are to each other. As a result, you tend to run into a lot more situations where people are assessing your worth and capabilities without much or any history of knowing you. You change teams. You change bosses. You change boss' bosses. Consequently, you run a greater risk of being underestimated or placed into a role or team that doesn't play to your strengths. It's crucial that you have a strong sense of what you want and that you advocate for that-regardless of what's going on around you.
Don't be deterred by others' misperceptions of you. Business will always change. Your passion, goals, and growth should not.
When I gave a talk at SheHacks BU a few weeks ago, one of the students asked me, "what advice would you give to young women who are interested in tech?" After reflecting on this discussion, my answer would be this:
Only you know what you're capable of. Don't rely on others to validate or recognize that. Be consistent and firm in asking for what you need even if it's uncomfortable or inconvenient. If people don't hear you it or if they don't give you a chance to prove it, find someone else who will.