A year ago this month I decided to transition into tech. My journey so far has been wonderful and eye-opening, and I’ve met so many amazing and inspiring people who I otherwise never would have crossed paths with. Thinking about the Waverley of March 2019 who decided to take the plunge and the Waverley of today, I can’t help but reflect on how much I’ve grown in this time and be grateful to all of the people who have supported me.
In honor of this anniversary and to thank everyone who have come before me and who will come after, I leave this piece of Waverley of March 2021 here 💞
- “Plus Est En Vous”
A huge reason why I didn’t make the transition to tech earlier was because I listened to what other people said and limited myself to their expectations. I wasn’t afraid of exceeding their expectations (which in hindsight isn’t a reliable goal), but I was afraid of exceeding expectations that they didn’t want me to exceed. Constantly being told I’m “too intelligent”, “thinking too much”, “not pushing myself enough”, among other things. As a result, anything that would make me “more intelligent” I ignored, instead pushing myself to work harder to be seen more as what they wanted. Every time I doubted or questioned what I was doing, I would think about what they said I should want and be. I internalized them, thinking they were what I wanted and what was needed of me. Reality is, I put myself in a box. Therefore, this past year taught me to live based on my expectations of myself and grow by challenging those expectations, not live based on expectations other people put on me. To have faith and believe in myself.
- Collaboration = Communication
Ultimately I’ve learned that the difference between working with others and true collaboration is that one can’t happen without communication. While there are details in between, when I think of collaboration I think of a positive, supportive environment where teammates are constantly learning (from each other and through the work itself), communicating with empathy, open to discussion, and are excited to work. That means when you don’t know or understand something, say so. But, that also means that there needs to be space for you to say it comfortably and not feel ashamed for it. For the person who hears the “I don’t know” to empathize and try to help in whatever capacity they can. On the other hand, when you see someone on your team struggling but aren’t saying anything, it means to offer your help anyway or send them a resource. If someone is dealing with everyday life issues, it means so much to know that your team has your back and remind you that you’re not just a worker.
Especially during COVID where we’re all working from home and meeting virtually, it means being able to be able to communicate this not only verbally but written as well. Remember that it’s not just what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. Even though with words on a screen you can’t hear how the words are being said, being thoughtful with your word choice, emojis, gifs, and reactions. If despite all that your words are still misinterpreted by the other party, you can still communicate that it wasn’t your intention, elaborate, and say what you mean again. Other times, you might say something that only later on, you realize is wrong. Have the courage and humility to apologize, and take the next step to do your best to educate yourself and learn from the experience.
I could go on more, but in my opinion that’s why collaboration can’t happen without good, effective communication. If you can’t hear/talk to your teammates, how can you really collaborate?
- Setting boundaries
This ties into advocating for myself and reminding myself to remember what I really want. Now that I’m not limiting myself based on other people, I’m embracing the freedom that brings. There’s so much I want to learn and so many wonderful opportunities out there to experience. However, even though there’s so much that I want to do, I also need to remember what my dream is and have that ground me. That starts with setting boundaries on how much I let everything take up space time-wise, emotionally and mentally. Reminding myself to be honest that I can’t do everything, to be grateful for the opportunities that come my way but I don’t always have to say “yes” to them, and to communicate my boundaries to the people they affect. I’m still working on this, so I can’t give much insight or advice, but I hope that by next year I’ll have something new to share.
- Cultivating and deepening positive, supportive relationships with people who push me to be my best self
Growing up I was often the “shy quiet” kid. I was happy making other people smile or laugh, but I didn’t need to be surrounded by people. Often you’d find me lost in my own little world. But when I’d come back to earth, I’d be alone. I didn’t expect anyone to wait for me, and all I would have to do is see the person the next day or call/text them and everything would be fine. But honestly, after a while it became harder and harder to do because life goes on.
I like to believe the people I’m with are always looking out for my best interest, but that’s sadly not always the case. I’ve had a lot of relationships with people who kept me in the same place. When I was upset they would comfort me, which I appreciated. But sometimes I was wrong, and when I would be right I wouldn’t take any further action. Not realizing this pattern for years I kept making the same decisions, the same mistakes and the cycle would repeat. These experiences made me realize that I want to be in relationships that push me to be my best self, and I want to reciprocate and do this for others as well.
Even though I have never met my cohort from Flatiron School or my team from The Collab Lab in person, knowing that I have a community to turn to means a lot. To know that I have people I can turn to for advice, to celebrate wins, to share worries, and are willing to tell me the honest hard truth when I need it, is the world to me. I always appreciate when they reach out to check in on me when I’ve been in my little world for too long. On the flip side, contributing to these communities is such an amazing feeling as well; realizing that by sharing my thoughts and knowledge I can help people. While I continue to navigate what my introverted tendencies mean for me to socialize and relationships in general, I hope that in the next year I will contribute to more communities, make new friends, and stay in touch with those dear to me.
Someone told me right after I graduated college that your twenties are when you finally start to learn about yourself after going through years of school, education, and basically being told what to do your whole life. I replied with a polite smile and agreed, but I naively thought that didn’t apply to me. I mean, what does it even mean to “learn about yourself”? I’ve been myself my whole life, how could I possibly not know who I am? In the months leading to my graduation, I already figured out my plan and knew what I wanted. I knew who I was.
How wrong my fresh out of college self was; it took a career transition less than two years after I graduated to realize it. I’m grateful for this new journey in more ways than one, and I’m excited for what’s ahead and to learn more about who I am. Thank you for reading this, for those who have supported me, and for everyone who comes after; I hope that this piece of my story helps you wherever you are in your journey.
Special shoutout to The Code Benders, The Collab Lab, and the larger Flatiron School community. Super special shoutout to Sylwia Vargas for encouraging me to share my story!