Helen Tran wrote an awe­some ar­ti­cle for fem-de­sign­ers-in-tech:

Self-doubt is healthy in doses but be care­ful what story you are telling your­self. Self-doubt is a mech­a­nism to help you gauge what’s real not to over-ex­ag­ger­ate anx­i­eties. Self-doubt is, Hmm, I should think about this a lit­tle. not, I am ter­ri­ble at this. This is many steps too far in the wrong di­rec­tion.

Her ad­vice struck a cord with me, so I wrote her an email:

Hey Helen!

Loved this ar­ti­cle! I’m not a fe­male, but I find this ar­ti­cle to be ex­cel­lent ad­vice. I’m a Latino, and I started in this in­dus­try re­ally young. I was 15 when I got my first job. I turn 25 this year. I strug­gle with every point you talk about here.

I hon­estly be­lieve this is why I did­n’t get the job at Shopify. I did­n’t sell my­self in the in­ter­views and in­stead I came off as in­ex­pe­ri­enced and un­sure about learn­ing new things. I con­stantly sell my­self short. My lack of be­lief in my­self leads to lack of be­lief from oth­ers. I’m de­ter­mined to change that this year. I’ve seen peo­ple with much less ex­pe­ri­ence ad­vance way quicker than I have.

Anyway, all this just to say thank you. This ar­ti­cle may not be writ­ten for me, but it sure does help.

-tim

In case you did­n’t know, I in­ter­viewed with Shopify in January. They flew Kelly and I out to Toronto for an awe­some 4 days. All my friends said a vari­a­tion of the same thing:

If they’re fly­ing you out, they must re­ally want to hire you!

I doubted. Something told me that I’d screw this up and they would­n’t end up hir­ing me. Still, we had a great trip. Kelly and I looked at apart­ments, ate amaz­ing food, and fell in love with the city. We be­gan to imag­ine what our lives would be like in Toronto, and it was pretty ex­cit­ing.

We flew back to Minnesota, and all my friends and fam­ily were ea­ger to know how it had gone. I thought the in­ter­views had gone pretty well and I’d fool­ishly got­ten my hopes up. A cou­ple days later, I re­ceived the call.

We’re mov­ing for­ward with other can­di­dates.

In film you’ve seen this mo­ment. The char­ac­ter hears the im­por­tant line and the rest just be­comes muf­fled. That’s kind of how this mo­ment felt. It might just be that I’m a very emo­tional per­son, but I don’t re­mem­ber the rest of the con­ver­sa­tion. I was too busy deal­ing with the in­creas­ingly large knot in my throat. I do re­mem­ber say­ing thank you, then hang­ing up.

I was dev­as­tated. I cried. I re­ally wanted the job. I wanted the change of scenery. Deep down, I wanted the val­i­da­tion of a com­pany like Shopify be­ing in­ter­ested in me and my skill set. I spent a few weeks mop­ing and be­ing sad.

Once the emo­tion cleared and I could ac­tu­ally think about it, I re­al­ized it was partly my fault. I’m sure there were many fac­tors in­volved but one of the biggest is that I sell my own self short.

If I don’t be­lieve in my­self and my skills, how is any­one else sup­posed to? I do this con­stantly. I un­der­sell my ex­per­tise, and what I can bring to a team.

I of­ten still feel like that fif­teen year-old that’s just get­ting started. So many mo­ments where I feel like a fraud about to be dis­cov­ered. I’ve gone to ex­treme lengths to pre­vent peo­ple from know­ing how old I am. I al­ways feel them find­ing out will in­val­i­date any­thing I’ve said or made. The ageism I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced along my ca­reer has only served to re­in­force that feel­ing.

Like I said in my email to Helen, this is the year I de­cided to change this. I’ll be speak­ing at a lo­cal con­fer­ence here in the Twin Cities and have started to send pro­pos­als to many oth­ers around the globe. I’m also writ­ing a lot more about de­vel­op­ment and de­sign here on this site.

I’m done let­ting these in­se­cu­ri­ties win. I’m done try­ing to get val­i­da­tion that I should­n’t need. I’m me and I’m awe­some. If you’ve felt like this, I hope you join me and fol­low Helen’s ad­vice.