Monday, November 9, 2015

I Actually Do Know What I'm Doing, Thanks.

This weekend I shrugged off mom guilt, shrugged off teacher guilt, and got on a plane to present at a conference at the request of PBS Learning Media.

For most of my life, I've been the, "That's a great idea, but we had someone else in mind to implement it" girl.  I don't know how that happened, but from fourth grade or so on, it's been, "Oh, yeah, Sarah's great, but she's not the one who came to mind when we were thinking of this awesome opportunity."  I'm intelligent, spunky, and creative, but for some reason, I don't stand out from the pack.

And that's not okay.

I could sing you the details of my resume, from the honors societies to the prestigious degrees, but sometimes, it's not enough. Is it any wonder that Sheryl Sandberg talks about how women often feel like frauds in their very own careers? We sit around thinking that eventually someone's going to figure out we have no idea what we're doing.  But we do know what we're doing.

At a recent leadership training, all of us (men and women alike) were encouraged to raise our voices at the end of sentences to sound more welcoming. I cringed, then I told the leaders of the training that I would be finding other ways to make my conversations inviting and welcoming - I'm not going to purposely make every statement sound like a question. I have worked too hard to get where I am to have people thinking that I'm uncertain of everything I say. Nope. 

So, I accepted the offer from PBS, booked the flight and hotel room they offered, and stepped away.  We partnered PBS with last year on a test run on their digital learning resources.  They worked with me for a few weeks and wanted to work with me again - they wanted me based on my merits and my effort.

I ran with it. When I spoke in our early morning presentation, I spoke confidently about my school's part in the project, answered a few questions, and then handed the mic back over to the experts when the audience needed some nitty gritty project details.  I used my real voice, not a facsimile created to make people feel comfortable, and it felt right.

I will accept opportunities like this again and will also pursue some new paths I discovered at the conference - I'll move with confidence and strength, and I don't have to wait for permission.


6 comments:

  1. Congrats on stepping outside of your comfort zone! That is such an important thing to be able to do. I'm glad you had a great time at the conference and walked away feeling accomplished =)

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    1. Thank you! It definitely was a leap of faith, but it proved worth it in the end!

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  2. Yes! It sounds like you had a fantastic time at the conference!! It's so hard sometimes to step out of our comfort zones!! Congratulations!

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    1. Yep..comfort zones are just so very, very comfy...

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  3. Congrats on the PBS offer! I'm glad you walked out of there with your head held high. *high five*

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    1. Thank you! It was a great experience that I hope opens some other doors down the road.

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