… and more about a story I have to tell. I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, unsure of what to do with it in a professional capacity. I’ve always been afraid of it reflecting poorly on me, because you’re not supposed to talk negatively about your past working experiences and the companies that cause them. And if anything, I wanted to keeping rising in my career, and I wasn’t going to do anything that would prevent that from happening.
This feels like a good place to say my story out loud, at least for now. And if you don’t feel like reading this whole thing (other emails will be shorter, promise!), you can scroll to the bottom and read the bolded text for some ~personal~ news.
It’s a story many American working moms know well. It’s about heartbreak, and career resilience, and getting after what you want.
I was pregnant with my daughter in 2016. I felt like I was holding on by my fingertips, trying to grow this tiny human inside me and continue to do good work, all while being sick and exhausted.
One day the VP of Human Resources pulled me into her office. She told me that I wasn’t creative. She probably hasn’t thought about that day since, while I have for five years.
You are not creative.
Maternity leave came as quickly as it went. A week before my return, that same person informed that my job would be eliminated at the end of the year.
I am not creative.
January 2017. I applied for the Graphic Design position at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, where I work now. It felt like a sure thing.
I didn’t get the job. I am not creative.
A few months later, I saw a digital role at the Foundation, a mix of web production work and email design/development. I emailed the Marketing Manager and told him, in so many words, to hire me. Two weeks later I had a job.
I had no idea at the time that I was about to have an entire career shift. Email Marketing was the industry I didn’t see coming.
In my hardest moments of design and development, I sometimes flash back to that room at that old company, and I see the HR person looking at me and telling me that I’m not good enough, and I have to tell her to be quiet. That she’s wrong. That I am successful. That she cannot and will not hold me back.
Her opinion is meaningless.
Four years later, I’ve rocked it as the Email Marketing Specialist at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. I built the entire program, nearly from the ground up. I joined emailgeeks, a community of folks who are just as obsessed with this weird little industry as I am.
And then …
A friend came to me with a job listing, and told me to apply. It was a big job, a huge career step. I balked. She told me I was ready. It would allow me to go from doing everything to focusing on design and development, my one true love.
That voice flared up again. I told it to be quiet.
I got the job.
This July, I will be joining the Pathwire team as their Senior Email Developer.
It still feels unreal that I landed this job. For so long I convinced myself that my career was never going to advance. I felt like I didn’t even deserve it. But I now know that I do. That stupid voice can be silenced … for a while longer.
Thanks for hanging with me and reading my story. Why did I share it? To tell others out there that you’re not alone. I’m sure each of us has a story like the one above, where someone tries to tell us we can’t when we know we can. What happens when we stop letting that voice get in the damn way?
Until next time,