Do You Know How to Be Yourself Around Anyone Especially at Work?
How you show up at work can have an impact on your career. The natural question is, can you be yourself around anyone, especially at work?
I pondered that question. Here is what came to mind.
Do You Wear Two Faces?
Years ago a colleague said, “We have to wear two faces. The face we bring to work and the face outside of work.”
As a woman of color, I completely understand why she felt it was necessary to have a work self that differed from the outside of work self.
While it was years ago that she uttered those words, I often wondered, “Do I do the same?”
Heck to the naw!
Ok I just lied. Obviously, I don't speak like that at work. I leave that at home, around family, and friends.
I don't think that is being unauthentic. Instead, it is knowing your audience and being “professional”, right?
But in all seriousness, it has been quite a ride during my 27 years in corporate America.
Be Proud of Who You Are
I proudly rock my natural locks at work. In fact, I was doing it at a time when most black women would not have dared do what I did.
Interestingly, I did not give a single thought to what that meant career wise. The only thing I thought about was no longer making trips to the beauty salon, being able to go out in the rain and humidity or going swimming without having care in the world.
I was so bold and free with my natural locks that I have rocked a brush cut, braids, twists, and for a while I wore full grown out Angela Davis like fro. I really did. And….
As mentioned previously, I did it in a time when not many black women were embracing their natural hair in the professional work space.
Can You Be Yourself When You're Broken?
But there was a time after that when I was not as bold. In fact, I spent some of my tenure broken.
There were a many of promotion days when I cried at my desk. One too many times without my name being called and I started to believe something was wrong with me.
People saw my smile on the outside, but on the inside I was full of self-doubt. I was fighting the thoughts of enough – I must not be good enough, smart enough, or not know enough.
Trust me, that is not the way you want to show up to work each day.
I knew I was showing up doing everything possible to change my situation. I took internal classes and took someone's advice to up my credentials by getting my masters degree, all in the hopes of adding value to the company. Nothing seemed to work.
Be Willing to Break Cycles
Until something happened.
On one particular promotion day, the same routine started. I sat at my desk when my eyes filled with water before a tear dropped down the right side of my face. But it is also the day the routine ended.
I don't know if God touched my on my shoulder, but whatever happened I listened. When I listened I heard a voice (likely my voice) say to me, “Pam, make a choice. Choose to repeat this cycle or choose to change.” Without hesitation, I chose to change. Then guess what happened?…
I heard another voice.
Be Honest with Yourself
This time the voice said, “Now think about your time here. What responsibility do you take in your career?”
I thought about it. I mean I really thought about it.
One moment in my career came to mind. It was a time when I said, “No” to leading a project. Now, I cannot tell you if that did, or did not, mean anything.
What I can tell you is that I recognized when I said, “No.” I was saying it because I was afraid of failing. Terrified of it, in fact.
Fear can be a paralyzing thing, if you let it.
Redirect Your Energy
Something else happened in that moment too. I realized up to that moment I was putting a great deal of energy into matters outside of my control. I was putting energy into matters not related to me and that I could not change. That is when I made it a mission to control the ONE thing I could control – me.
I also realized I spent a whole lot of time with my head down working really hard. While I was working really hard, as my parents had taught me to do (yes, let's blame that on them), the culture was changing around me. People were out building relationships while I was keyed in on working hard.
And as for my fears, I started living by the motto: even when you are afraid, do it anyway.
Be Yourself Through the Ups and Downs
Above I asked, “Can you be yourself when you're broken?”
We all have our stories and experiences. No matter what your story may be, your story is a part of you. Be who you are.
In my story that day in the cubicle something changed. I realize now, it wasn't me that changed, it was my thinking that changed.
I was still honest, reliable, and willing to helping in anyway possible, but I became an improved version of myself.
Through all of that I was still myself. And…
That is the person everyone sees showing up at work everyday.
By choosing to change my situation, being honest with myself, and redirecting my energy, I can and will do anything I put my mind to, even when afraid.
That is the type of person I have always been.
Be Yourself Around Anyone
Don't be ashamed of who you are. Embrace who you are. Control what you can control, then go out in the world being the best version of you, constantly growing and evolving.
My experience has driven a passion in me to help others, perhaps that includes you. My mission is to encourage you to break down your walls, control what you can control, and even when you are afraid, do what scares you anyway.
You owe to yourself, to be yourself.
How to you make sure to be yourself around anyone? Share in the post comments.