Opinion Editorials

Letter to my daughter: you’re not a victim, you’re powerful

future employee

Written for my daughter, this letter addresses realities of the workforce that even veteran employees take to heart.

letter to my daughter

Dear daughter,

You are one of the smartest people I know and what I admire about you is that you don’t blame your teachers when you have a hiccup in your grades, you don’t blame the other driver if you hit the curb, you don’t blame anyone for your closet being a mess or your hair not being done, you’ve always taken full credit for both good and bad things, and that makes you a rare teen. Most teens believe the world revolves around them, therefore when something bad happens, it’s the world’s fault.

Maybe it’s because we helped you learn the value of winning Go Fish by yourself without it being handed to you, or maybe it’s because you’re just a genius, but at this age, you have a rare understanding that you are responsible and all actions have consequences.

But in a few years, you’ll go to college and graduate and you’ll be enthusiastic about starting your first big boy job, and I’ll bet you a dollar that in your first week, someone will think you’re helpless at something and help you. You’ll think it’s kind and you’ll accept the help. An older man will think you’re too delicate to lift a box of paper, a gal not much older than you will offer to take a sales call for you so you can see how it’s done. You’ll feel accepted, but what happens when that same man thinks you’re too delicate to handle that big account or be included in a meeting filled with decision makers? What happens when that lady doesn’t offer to take a call for you, she just straight up steals a client? It’s on you because like many Southern women that enter the workforce seeking to please everyone, you let people do things for you and you subconsciously told them that they’re better than you in some capacity.

After a few years, you’ll get a big promotion and answer to a bigger boss up the chain, only this one isn’t compromising and accommodating. This new boss doesn’t care that you want a few extra days off around the holidays because you want to travel to see both families, s/he doesn’t care that you get migraines and need to have your office lights off and sound down low for a few hours, and most of all, s/he doesn’t care about your prestigious degree but does care that you stand up straight and are presentable at the next conference. This new boss yells at you and doesn’t care about your feelings, rather barks endless orders at you.

Your peers will throw up their hands in frustration because their boss sucks, it’s their boss’ fault, and they are a victim. But maybe, just maybe the reason the boss is a jerk about you taking time off is because s/he really relies on you and needs you, and you matter. Maybe they care that you are presentable in public because they see you as a protege, and want to mentor you. Maybe their way of communicating it is horrible, but sometimes people are tough on you because you either come highly qualified and should be capable of more than what you are doing, or because they see so much in you that they ride you to death so you can take their place some day.

Daughter, when you enter the workforce, just remember that people your age will see a tough situation and act like an opossum and play dead because they’re convinced they’re a victim. Their teachers were mean which is why they made Cs, and their boss is insensitive which is why they’re not getting a raise. You can stand out by understanding that bosses usually have reasons for behaving as they do, and it isn’t always because they’re jerks. Don’t ever believe you’re the victim, because you are in control of your destiny – you are powerful, you are important, and you can do this because you are smarter than your counterparts who will cry when their boss is demanding.

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  1. Pingback: SXSW Interactive Black Tech Community Meet Up: one of many ways SX is tackling diversity in tech - AGBeat

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