Several months ago, I met someone who had been reading my blog. We had a chat, but from some things that she said I got the impression that my blog made me seem a bit too much like super-woman. I’m not, as you may have noticed, because since then I’ve tried to temper my writing with stories of failure, or general inadequacy.
Why? Because I aspire to be a role model. We don’t have enough of them, as female programmers. The high profile ones are out of reach – I’m not ever going to be like Marissa Myer, for example. So I think what we need are the women in who are happy, successful, and in a place that we can realistically aim for.
In the midst of some recent angst-ing, I was on chat with one of my role models and mentors. She was super helpful – acknowledged what I was getting worked up about, but then gave me some advice. Not on the basis that I should do better, but on the basis that I am better than the person who I had allowed to bother me. I can choose my reaction. I’m trying to choose a better one.
I’m always striving to do better, and beating myself up because I don’t live up to my unrealistic expectations. And then I’m making myself feel worse by comparing myself to other people, when the situation is completely different – a factor of age, or profession, or focus, or timing. The dot-com bubble occurred when I was between 10 and 15. For much of that my family didn’t even have a computer. Of course, my career will be different from someone who was in the industry then.
It’s easy to look for role models and think – I want X’s personal life, but Y’s career. But are we being realistic? X may have compromised on career for that great personal life, and Y may have compromised their personal life for that career. We don’t know. Ultimately, we will have to make our own choices and our own compromises and hope to be happy with the final result.
Anyway, as I try – frantically – to graduate, I’m thinking about what I want my future to look like, and I’m looking for role models.