As an adolescent, I was hesitant to “show off” my leadership skills. I led school clubs and was involved in leadership oriented activities but I was never the first one to skillshare. I undermined the knowledge I had, and to a certain extent did not realize the value of my experiences. This hesitance had a lot to do with my identity which was the fact that I was a girl, and an Asian American.
As an Asian American young girl, the burden of the “model minority myth” affected me deeply. There was always that little voice in my head that told me to ‘never fail’ as I was growing up. It didn’t help that my peers and even some of my teachers reinforced this belief in me. In addition, as a young woman, I was told to ‘not be bossy’ and to ‘not be aggressive’ - things that boys were praised for. I was even told multiple times to ‘be polite’, and ‘let the boys handle it’.
Luckily, I grew out of listening to those voices. Though these factors continue to affect me as an adult (see: model minority myth and socialized gender norms), I have pushed through these hindrances. I fully embrace that my perspective is important and valid because of my identity - not in spite of it.
This is why I make it a point to seek out opportunities and engagements that celebrate my identity like Boston GLOW’s 2017 Not Your Barbie Conference. The voices of women of color are vital, and I am happy to lend my expertise, skillshare, and even present my failures. In fact, I will be doing all three of these things at the April conference - I will be presenting on my own experience, leadership, and missteps in my session - Starting a Social Justice Initiative on the Fly: Not Quite Winging It.
Join me in forgetting hesitance, daring to lead, and celebrating our unique voices. I’m not your Barbie. I’m not your model minority. I am a leader.
Hear more from Helena Berbano at the 2nd Annual #NotABarbie Career and Empowerment Conference on April 8th. Learn more about Helena's workshop and the other speaker at https://bostonglownotabarbiecareera2017.sched.com/tickets