I am going on my 15th year in Corporate America. I’ve transitioned from lowly intern, to credit analyst, to Vice President. It only took me 15 years. LMAO. But okay back to the topic at hand. The last 15 years have been some of the toughest years of my life actually. I have experienced success and failure. Elevation and decline. On one hand, I have moved up the corporate ladder. On the other hand I lost aspects of myself from “wearing a mask.” The need to assimilate into my environment to be accepted. Or, at least the desire to be accepted.
I mean, I’m from Elkhart, IN. A very faith-based, but yet humble background. Now I am interacting with millionaires on a daily basis. The economic (not to mention social) disparities is widespread. And it was (and still is) very intimidating. And I have spent a number of years feeling like I didn’t belong, that I was inferior or that I had to withhold my authenticity in order to fit in. As a result, I have hurt myself in so many ways. Most importantly, however, I have deprived myself and the world from getting to know me. Instead of being me, I have been the “Tiffany” I thought I was expected to be. In doing that, I became unhappy. I didn’t even realize it for many years because assimilating became so natural. So my questions is, how many of us lose ourselves trying to be what we think we need to be in order to be accepted? And, if we lose ourselves, how are we even functioning? Because, from experience I know I stopped functioning. I could no longer hide me. I had to shout who I was to world!! It was so scary, yet so freeing.
With that said, I still deal with the need to wear a mask. I will say, however, I have boldly stepped into my authenticity in and out of the professional environment. And, surprisingly, I have been accepted (somewhat). But, at least I am comfortable enough in my own skin to know that irregardless of what other people think, I have to be true to myself. Or else I might as well be dead.