The Long Game

On my first day at work twelve years ago, one woman said to another (not realizing I was right there), "Did you meet that new little girl, Anna? She will never make it here." There was agreement, and laughter.

They knew nothing about me. I was shaken, just a little.  I should have been flattered that my mere existence that day had unsettled the atmosphere. 

I still talk to that woman regularly and we are on very good terms. She is still doing basically the same job she was when I first met her, when she had actually been senior to me in position and title. Now, twelve years later, I've been promoted multiple times over her and make a better salary than her manager does, and I have the pleasure of working a job every day that interests me and keeps me engaged and growing.

The decade or so in between was a battle. I had awkward gaps in my resume due to immigration. I looked very young, and I had the bittersweet stigma of being related to my amazing, controversial mother who is sort of the industry leprechaun (small, with a capability so rare you'd think she was part of folklore!). Some days, I'd had it. There were days I told my family, "one more paycheck and I am done with this!" But I've always played the long game. I see what is happening today, but I see past it. I was twenty-five years old that day, I was making less than twelve dollars an hour for a job that I outgrew when I was in high school. But I was paying my dues. I knew I had to do it, and that it would be worth it.

And I paid those dues for years.

I worked full time and spent seven years in university getting my bachelor's and then master's degrees. I made lateral job changes, I worked for less than what I was worth, I learned everything I could get my hands on. I built relationships at every level. I endured so much conflict (some of it very serious) with people who simply didn't like the fact that I was there to work, learn and grow and that I shake up the status quo. I never let the difficulty change who I was in my heart. I did the work, I did it with laughter, I did it with hope, and I did it without letting myself build grudges against people who had tried to hurt me.

Somedays I cried by myself in absolute frustration over being undervalued.

And there were days when even my loved ones said, "you need to give up and walk away." And oh man, did I want to.

They say good things come to those who wait but I don't think that's what that really means. Yes, good things come to those who are patient, and who in their patience put in the work, conquer their insecurities, who seek to improve themselves, who hold the line when others would give up.

And now when I am underestimated, I just smile. That's okay. I've learned that in the end, time reveals what we are all made of.