I am a 24-year-old black woman joining a very white, very male dominated industry. Thanks to women like Kimberly Bryant, Laura Weidman Powers and Erin Teague, I know what it looks like for brown girls to break barriers in tech. But I still can’t help but wake up some mornings thinking: “What on earth do I think I’m doing here?” Imposter. Syndrome.
In a class that originated with 11 newbie programmers, I am the only woman and only black person. Of course, the numbers don’t seem so bad because of the course size. But I was quickly reminded that this would be the norm throughout my career. When expressing my nerves about encountering that reality, I was told: “you went to a PWC so you're used to it.". Despite the truth about the demographics of my college, my colleague's assumption was false. I don't get it because in college it was never just me. I was not alone. Safe spaces like Association of Black Harvard Women and the Black Students Association made sure I had peers to vent to and mentors to lean on. Here in LA, I’m still finding my safe space and community.
Now, I rarely come off as though I'm scared or discouraged in class, but I've had one or two days where I actually came close to giving up (these were logic lab days by the way). I quickly learned that I needed a routine in the morning to get me ready for the day. I needed "A Winners Attitude" as my dad would call it. Regardless of your field, if you've ever felt worried about fitting the mold or meeting the bar I want you to know this: you may not fit the mold, but you've surpassed the bar. You've defied the boundaries of what is expected of you and that, my friend, is a big deal. Still not convinced? I've got 6 affirmation activities for you to do in the morning.
*Note: You must stand in front of the mirror to say/think/do these things!
1) Say: I deserve my best.
I mean you really do. Most of us would give the world for the people we love, but we wouldn't dare do the same for ourselves. You deserve your very best: attitude, love, affirmation, work etc etc.
2) Say: I am smart.
Not "I am brilliant", not "I am incredibly intellectual". Just "I. Am. Smart." Why? Cause sometimes the simplest thing is the hardest to believe. You don't have to be brilliant to figure out how to code, you just have to be smart. And guess what? You are smart.
3) Say: I'm doing better than I think.
Convince yourself of this truth if its the last thing you do. You actually know more than you ever thought you could. Last week, I didn't know anything about Autolayouts, now I'm an Autolayout queen. Four weeks ago, I didn't know anything at all about Swift, now I know enough to keep going. Remind yourself that you're not where you started. Keep going!
4) Think: I made it to today!
A friend of mine is a gratitude guru and I'm often reminded to wake up and give thanks because of her. Wake up, close your eyes, say a prayer or meditate or do something that reminds you to be grateful for being alive!
5) Do: Laugh at yourself.
If you look at yourself in the mirror long enough this will happen. Not because you look funny, but because seeing yourself, and I mean truly seeing yourself, will bring you joy. I love this one because it's a reminder to stop taking everything so seriously. Stop taking yourself so seriously. You are a beautiful, beautiful human, facing a beautiful, beautiful transition. So laugh a little.
6) Do: A Power Pose.
Thats right. You are superwoman or superman. Need help? Take notes here.