Wednesday, 7/5/17 – I used to be so quiet about my skills and passion and dreams. I would never tell anyone about the things that got me out of bed in the morning because I wanted to create space for everyone else. For a long time, that worked because I was a journalist and a tutor and an educator, so I was in the business of helping other people’s light shine a little bit brighter. But now, I’m realizing that I really can take up as much space as I need. I can tell stories of resilience and failure and survival because this is part of my narrative – it’s integral to who I am as a Pakistani Muslim woman who’s also in the process of coming out and unabashedly loving myself in the process. And the people support me in that. How amazing / beautiful / wonderful that I get to choose this work every day. Even if I don’t know exactly what career I’m going to have, I hope that storytelling will always be part of it.
Self-identifying as a storyteller seems like the most honest thing I can possibly do, and I’m glad that I get to share my insights with everyone else too. I was raised to do this thanks to my grandmother who crossed oceans and borders, who raised me on outlandish tales of climbing over fences to steal mangos and brothers who would braid her hair into her sisters in their sleep. Now, it’s my turn to do the same – I will survive and thrive because of my culture.
In the process of embracing my identity as a storyteller, I decided to work on a series of articles chronicling my experience at Microsoft as a person of color. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that I got the job because I told my superviser about how I have to make the choice to believe in myself every single day – if I believed my capability was confined to the things I had been taught, if I believed all the stories other told me that I couldn’t be an engineer and designer and change my career paths in the middle of school, I wouldn’t be at Microsoft right now. But I am, and I’m hoping that these stories will help other people feel something, or think more critically about how to bring all of themselves to the table
Here’s what my superviser said after reading my stories: I think these stories are going to make a lot of people in this company stop and think – about their identity, about the culture they’re cultivating, and about the type of co-worker they are. You’ve hit such a broad stroke of corporate America with these stories, and I’m just amazed. You are an extremely talented writer.
This is why they say mentorship works both ways. You’ve already taught me so much in your short time here. J I’m so proud of you!
Honestly, this is a reminder that I am storyteller first and foremost – I have a voice and a story to tell, and I want to make people feel something regardless of their place in an organizational chart depicting the hierarchy of the company. Maybe I really can do anything, but this is what I want: to tell powerful, resilient tales about struggle and survival – it’s a sign that I’ve tried things / take risks / want to be more than I’ve ever been. And I’m not stopping here. Being at Microsoft is an exercise in bringing all of myself to the table, and writing this articles is my first step to do this.
Look out for links to stories very soon! I will add them to the post so stay tuned ❤ Until then, cheers to the summer of a lifetime featuring Chance the Rapper tiny desk concerts, notebooks full of vulnerable writing, and opportunities to grow and feel supported in my work – and I’m not just talking about my career.