By Go-getter Precious Singo
Back in January, one of my fellow Go-Getters, Kait Way, talked about her phenomenal support system and what it looks like for her. Reading her stories got me thinking about what my support system has taught me over the years and I decided to share their wisdom. Here are the top three things I’ve learned from them.
That weird feeling you have?…yeah, others have it too.
It took me until I was well into my 30’s to realize that the stress, uncomfortableness, or just plain surprise that sometimes happens at work is actually normal. I was very much a lone wolf for the beginning part of my career and because of that, I didn’t benefit from hearing my friends’ and co-workers’ doubts and fears. Had I taken the time to build a support system early on, I would have known that those exact feelings come with growing into your career and into yourself. And, I would have discovered that those feelings are tripled when you work in a field where you are one of the “only”s (only woman, only person of color, only person who didn’t get a degree).
I also would have learned sooner that some weird feelings I had shouldn’t have been brushed aside. Like when an older, white, male co-worker constantly called me “girl” when addressing me. That word is so loaded racially and sexually–and so inappropriate, regardless of his meaning–but I was SURE others would think I was overreacting or too sensitive if I spoke up. Or like the time when I got promoted and my boss told me to “not be a b!tch, like most women (bosses).” He was not talking about me specifically, but how he felt about my gender as a whole, and I brushed that aside, too. The people in my support system now wouldn’t allow limiting thoughts to even enter my head and would be the first ones lined up to share their stories and help me make a plan for dealing with problem situations like these.
There is room for everyone at the table!
Every person that I count as a part of my support system has, at one time or another, reached back to pull me up with them. There is no universe where I am doing the job I love without having a bevy of people introducing me, vouching for me, or giving me pep talks. Seeing this genuine care for someone else’s success taught me that it’s not enough for me to do well. I also have to help other folks get to their dream.
Women, specifically, have been conditioned to think that there is only room for one of us at the table. I’ve seen this mentality over and over in my career, but it was never more clear to me than when I was recently speaking with a young lady after leaving a long strategy meeting in which I was the only woman. She said, “Aren’t you happy that you made it in there?! That’s huge!” My response? “I’ll be happy when I can get more women in the room. Until then? No, I’m not happy.”
Don’t be jealous of people in their winning season. You don’t know what they lost in their losing season.
In other words, be happy for others’ successes. This one is huge. It’s so easy to let the green-eyed monster take over your mental talk track. But it’s really important to consider the work it took for that person to achieve her success.
The people I count on as my support are happy for my happiness, and sad for my sadness. When I feel jealousy kicking in, I think about how my circle would act and I switch gears. I can’t say that I always do it successfully, but I at least have a model for what genuine happiness for someone else looks like and can strive for that.
My support system is a group of phenomenal, talented, and thoughtful people. They know that behind closed doors I fight anxiety and a constant stream of self-limiting thoughts, like many of us do. And, (not to be the corniest ever, but) they pick me up when things get tough and celebrate me when things are awesome. Without them, I’m sure I would be ok. I mean, I was ok before them. But who wants to just be ok? Not me. I want to be better than ok. I want to be ridiculously more than ok. With my amazing support system, I know there’s a shot that I just might get to be.