This week I reflect back to three years ago when I applied for the ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership (DELP) Program. I remembered sitting in my boss’s office justifying why I should be allowed to apply. Yes, allowed.
(L-R) Sikha Singh, Juan Amador, Me
You see, to participate in this program you needed to receive not only the written consent of your superior but of the President of the organization as well.
So there I sat, with a pit of self-doubt restricting the flow of air through my body, suppressing the small voice inside of me that was convincing me that I wasn’t good enough.
I mean seriously, at the time I was a manager, with a boss who prided herself on bringing people down versus building them up. Somehow everything I did was wrong and I would never be up for a promotion.
(L-R) Juan Amador, Shomari McCrimons, Teshia A. Birts, Vincent J. Mayor
Overworked and with a shattered ego, I almost skipped the application process altogether. Reading the list of past scholars which included CEOs, Executive Directors, and Vice Presidents, who did I think I was applying for this program? I struggled for weeks with feelings of insecurity and failure, and as each week passed I would stare at the deadline on my calendar wondering who would win, self-doubt or me.
(L-R) Vincent J. Mayor, Brian S. Green, Shomari McCrimons, Pierre M. Désy, Sikha Singh, Teshia A. Birts, Juan Amador, John J. Segota, Me (missing from the picture; Anne Ornelas de Lemos, Barbra Sanders, and Cara Thunder)
My journey to DC for the initial DELP training was just as challenging as receiving my employer’s approval. Torrential rain storms created the longest commute ever recorded from NYC to DC. Plane, trains and automobiles later, I arrived in DC at midnight, missing my first day of DELP workshops. Epic failure!
The next day, I arrived at the meeting room nervous and truly scared. Here we were, the 12 candidates selected from throughout the USA. And here I was one whole day late! So I quietly grabbed my seat and contained my emotions. I watched as strangers chatted as friends and as bonds quickly developed. Over the next two days, these strangers would become confidants, mentors, cheerleaders, and family.
Our first group picture taken at the 2012 ASAE Conference DELP breakfast.
So this week, as I reflect on the past few years I think back at the woman I was and the woman I’ve become.
I think of the many times they have pushed me to be greater and bigger then I thought I could be. I think of all the moments of grief we’ve shared together and all of the moments of happiness. I think of the drunk nights, the dancing, and the hangover stories. I think of how lucky I am to have them in my life. And finally, I think about how self-doubt, insecurities, and fear almost kept me from meeting 12 amazing strangers that would change my life.