Feeling Comfortable In Your Own SkinJan 01, 2023
Being Confident As a Businesswoman
As a woman of color of immigrant family descent, I have often been the outlier in many business situations. And I've learned that I will be successful no matter what business situation I might be in if I honor who I am, where I come from, and where I want to go in my business career.
I came from a family of artists, entrepreneurs, and engineers and got lucky in my early 20s to begin my early career in the male-dominated tech world during the early 2000s.
I still remember the first time I was in a business situation that pushed me to get comfortable owning who I was when I joined a tech dot.com startup in San Francisco. The company had been running for a while, and at the time I was entering, it had only one woman working there, and I became the second woman they hired and their first female engineer.
On my first day at the startup while I sat in the upstairs office doing my new hire onboarding orientation and paperwork. The HR person, the other woman in the company, said, 'thank god they hired you. I finally have another woman in the company with me.' This statement left me speechless because it made me aware of how much of an outlier I was in the company at that time.
At first, this awareness caused me to feel very uncomfortable in my own skin. For the first few months, I would try to make myself not stand out as much from my fellow male engineer colleagues by trying to dress like everyone in the office by sporting jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers while wearing no makeup or jewelry and putting my long hair back in a bun. This look was counter to my normal true fashionista self, who liked to wear cute outfits that included dresses, skirts, jewelry, heels, makeup, etc.
However, the side effects of hiding how I normally liked to dress from others in the office started to create self-doubt about my ability to do my job. My work began to suffer because not feeling like I could be my fashionista self in the office had me questioning my skills, abilities, and how I did my work each day.
Then one day, out of the blue, I woke up and decided I would be my fashionista self that day. I put on some makeup and a cute skirt and went into the office. Looking at myself in the mirror before I walked out the door to catch the bus, I felt confident. And that confidence stayed with me all day in the office. I felt in control when I had to make decisions, and my work improved significantly that day. Even my boss noticed and complimented me on a job well done.
That day allowing myself to express my fashionista self at work allowed me to feel comfortable owning who I was, which gave me confidence in my role at that company. This lesson taught me the importance of owning who I am regardless of my business situation. Because when you feel comfortable being you, you will be confident in the work you do.
The next time you need a boost of confidence in what you're doing, take a moment to see if you can express yourself more, even if it’s something simple as your day-to-day outfit.
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