Friday, December 23, 2011

Giving up and claiming back

Haven't had the time to write a lot of stuff this year - work, life has got in the way. As I look back, I am definitely in a better place compared to last. But am I in a place that I think I deserve. Probably not. Some of the problems that have plagued throughout my life remain and have become more intense now.

One of them is my appearance. Unfortunately, through genes on my father's side, I look like I am in my early twenties. Also, I don't have the height (not my fault) or demeanour ( my fault) that impresses. Most people assume that I don't have the experience desired for jobs I should be getting. I believe this youthful demeanour had a big hand to play in a really nasty episode early this year, when my manager - completely new to the whole consulting world (I think also to the concept of professional decency), accused me of being incompetent. This was 10 days into the start of the project. For these 10 days, we were not working closely (I was in the UK for some of them and the summer riots were happening very close to where I stay), and he was not seeing what I was up to. He assumed I was up to nothing. Without checking my previous credentials, I think he assumed I was just incapable for the job.

It is difficult for someone not in my position to see this as a problem, but it genuinely is. I am not overtly able to state my age and experience in every initial interaction with everyone - there is just no right or subtle way of bringing it up.

Also, even when you do bring it up, people have already made their minds up. We have so little time to do research, that we go by appearances and gut-feel (even more so than before I think). There is this typical conceit of rationalising their call by saying, "Oh, well, age or experience didn't matter in my decision making".

The burden to fix this issue is completely on you. But as you and people around you grow old, your ability to change yourself (say to be more agressive or sociable) and to change their opinions dimishes. You will largely remain what you are, and they will think the same of you even if you improve dramatically.

So, why do I say I am in a better place if I am here wallowing in self-pity? Well, having seen the worst in my professional career, I am now more fearless than ever. I can clearly see the trend in how people perceive me professionally, and think there is no point in me trying to change opinions. I can try to take remedial measures, and be more communicative, and project more authority and gravitas in my professional dealings.

But still if my abilities are not recognised in the time that they should be, then there is no point letting that slide. I have lost my patience now and don't care if people think any less of me.
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