Sometimes, a CV can’t tell you everything about a person. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you something about the “unofficial” me. Hopefully, you will see me in a different light.
“You must be one of the popular girls in school!” an ex-colleague once said that to me.
She couldn’t be further from the truth. From the age of 9 right up to the age of 18, I was bullied — horribly — in school. Not just by my schoolmates, but also by my teachers. To this day, I still tell my friends how I feel let down by the education system. Mrs David always stood out as the teacher who not only did not help save me from the bullying, she perpetuated it by picking on me constantly, by demanding to meet with my parents for no reason other than to scare the living daylights out of me. She knew I was the type of child who felt duty-bound to not ever let my parents down.
Once, when I was in Primary 5, my left wrist suffered a hairline fracture. The doctor at the Emergency Room wrote me a note exempting me from taking the annual Physical Fitness Tests. The note, I handed over to Mrs David. A month later, just before the tests were to happen, she asked me, “Where’s your MC for the tests?”
“I gave it to you already,” I replied meekly. My young mind was racing because, while I was certain I had handed the slip to her, I did not understand why she was asking me for it.
She denied ever being given the slip and demanded I go back to the doctor for another. It was a Friday. I did not have a specialist. To get a replacement slip meant that my parents would have to take me to the emergency room, and wait for hours to get a doctor to issue one. It was a humiliating experience. I will never forget the look the doctor on duty that Sunday gave me. “You came to the emergency room for this,” his face said.
I handed the slip over to Mrs David the next day. She took it from me and, right in front of my eyes, she crushed it in her hand and walked away.
So, Here’s My Story
Whenever people ask me what made me the person I am today, I am often dumbstruck. It’s not because my life lacks colour. Rather, it’s because my story isn’t about how I spent countless hours on the court training for a sport until I became the best, it isn’t about how I was an inspiring student union leader who raised tens of thousands of dollars for a school dance. I don’t have those colourful, exciting tales where I travel across a desert only to find a priceless treasure. I’m not that privileged. But …
I am the resilient, tough fighter that no one sees until they need rescuing. Why? Because in JC, my classmates would openly shun me in the cafeteria with the whole school watching me for my reaction. I had to keep a brave face and act like I was not at all affected. I remember going home, pretending everything was well in school, then going to my room and falling into a deep sleep from the sheer emotional exhaustion.
I am the out-of-the-box survivalist that no one appreciates until the going gets tough. How? I climbed my way from intern to editor in 5 years, not because I was more talented than the section editors with many years more experience. It was because I was hungrier and more obsessed with coming up with ideas not done before.
I am the glue that keeps the team together when everything goes to shit. I am not universally loved by everyone (who is?) but I don’t claim credit for work that’s not mine, and I always empower my people.
These personal attributes are hard to put down on a CV because they are not tangible skills like “data analytics”, like “coding”, like “business development”. And, more often than not, interviewers and recruiters don’t really probe you enough for you to feel safe sharing these life experiences.
The Very Core Of Me
Mrs David knew very well that Fear is part of my DNA. She exploited it to the fullest degree by making me believe that I am not “a good daughter”, that I’m a disappointment to my parents. I knew from early on that I will never forgive the woman for making me afraid of going to school.
But, once I learnt to assert myself and my opinions, Fear took the form of something very different.
Because of Fear, I am always on the quest to learn new things for I do not want to become irrelevant and useless.
Because of Fear, I tend to cling onto the material like ensuring I have enough money in the bank, that I pay my bills on time, and checking in with my financial advisor the status of my retirement plans.
Because of Fear, I seek affirmation more than the average person. I must do things right, I must do my best, and I must be the best. If I’m not good enough, I’m not enough. I torture myself constantly because of this.
My friends don’t hesitate to tell me how wonderful I am and, I can never thank them enough for their confidence and faith in me. But there are days when I don’t feel so awesome about myself, about my work, and about my achievements. I know full well that I am my own biggest detractor and, that the funk I’m in is temporary.
I’m not the most brilliant and amazing candidate on paper but, if there’s one thing I do better than anyone else, it’s this: I stay in the fight longer and, I always finish.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.