This is just a story, about a girl, in Tech, but with a twist. And there’s wine, because no good story starts with a green salad.
Born in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa in 1975, I spent most of my life trying my best not to stand out. I just wanted to be & feel “normal”. But who knows what that is, right? Growing up I was always the restless one, hyperactive, difficult to please, curious, questioning everything and not taking no for an answer. That didn’t help with the “blending in” part.
Finished school at 15 and started working. Tried my best to do a 3-year distance learning (postal) course in the “12 Basic Programming Languages” and gave up after a year, because it was SO unbelievably boring. There’s no color? What?!?! So, I promptly gave up on IT.
The next 22 years I did the following jobs and owned a couple of businesses:
- Girl Friday | Receptionist (also known as the do everything you’re told to do)
- Clothes Designer & Maker
- Driving School Instructor & Owner
- Quantity Surveyor & Tender Administrator
- Art Shop Owner | Art Class Instructor
- Décor Shop Owner | Furniture & Kitchen Designer (3D Modeling)
- Personal Assistant
- Systems Analyst & Business Development
- SharePoint Intranet & Quality Manager
Now this might look impressive to some, but I felt like a huge failure. As a girl with no certifications, I was earning about half, sometimes a quarter of any of the guys around me and regularly told that I had no value in the company as I had no value “out there”, referring to my qualifications or lack thereof, of course.
Also, very important to note is that due to my low self-esteem I took the back seat many times when I had the opportunities to achieve more. I didn’t fight back, displayed no authority and just didn’t believe in myself. Of course, I understood that I wasn’t born this way and that the discrimination I had been subject to led to a lot of this, but sadly I continued the self-abuse.
THE BIG CHANGE
Beginning 2012 I got on a stage for the first time and spoke at the Share Conference in Johannesburg. I was petrified. Didn’t sleep for 2 days (also had 3 broken ribs from a motorcycle accident, but who’s counting) and was convinced everyone would know I was an imposter and that I had no idea what I was talking about. I was amazed that they didn’t. Shortly after this I threw in the towel with corporate companies and their lack of morale values, quit my job and started my current business – The Guid Stuff.
Over the next 7 years my low self-esteem and imposter syndrome pushed me harder than ever before to prove myself, but…
I learnt more than I ever thought possible. On the 29th of February 2016, I was sitting in my garden (drinking wine of course), thinking about leap years and how cool it would be to do something different. So, I drank more wine and did something crazy. On social media I declared that I would write a blog every day for the next 365 days on everything I learn in Office 365. What?!!??! And then I did it, never thinking I would be able to finish that crazy challenge. On the 28th of February 2017 I wrote the last one, thinking I was done with blogging, for life. And then Microsoft launched Microsoft 365 and I did it all over again, another 365 blogs. And this people, is the best thing I have ever done for myself.
Diversity is so much more than what the eye can see. It’s all the hidden things that makes us so unique, and yes, even those attributes we consider as flaws. I’m sure all people suffer from low self-esteems and we should be putting more focus on personal development for employees to help build the beautiful, healthy world we all deserve to live in.
Acceptance is the greatest gift you can ever give yourself, and it’s something you’ll have to work on continuously. Push yourself outside of your comfort zones, that’s where the learning starts. Be true to who you are, get up, dress up, show up – because you’re worth it and the world will be a sad, lonely place without you.
About the Author:
Facilitating the evolution of human capabilities – Based in South Africa, Tracy’s passion is to empower people and therefore change management lies close to her heart. Her Mission is to positively impact WHAT and HOW people create, as she believes that what we create, creates us back (Ontological Design). It is about enabling others to serve themselves better, expand their possibilities, increase their capacity to learn, act more effectively and better design their future.