At a job interview several years ago the interviewer remarked:
“I see that you have these degrees, but who is Liliana in the process?”
Before I could answer, the interviewer added, “You see, when someone comes into my office, they see a picture of my wife and my kids and that’s how they know who I am.”
How would you feel about that question?
I was 33 years old at the time and fully qualified for the job that I was being interviewed for. Yet still, I had a very difficult time answering. It felt to me like a loaded question.
Why did I feel this way?
Upon reflection, I realized that I felt guilty—terribly and utterly guilty that at almost 34 years old, I wasn’t married and I didn’t have any children. My answer did not come from feelings of strength or confidence. It came from feelings of insecurity and deep guilt. I felt that I was not meeting the expectations of the church I belonged to nor had I achieved the family life I envisioned. Most of all, I felt I did not live up to the expectations I was supposed to meet, coming from a heavily family-oriented background.
At the time, I was focused more on who I was not and what I did not have, instead of on who I was and what I did have. I was measuring my self-worth by other people’s standards.
I was basing my love for myself on external factors.
The impact of the question from that interviewer and his explanation continued to haunt me.
My reply to him was timid and apologetic.
“I am a person of faith, I have my dad and a few relatives…,” and that’s what I said.
After a few years of experience living in other places and seeing life through many lenses, I became more self-aware, determined my own path and fostered my ability to feel secure and confident in who I am—challenges and all. Family is still important to me, but I no longer see myself from a perspective of what I do not have. Instead, I can appreciate what I do have.
As a woman, I redefined my path and it allowed me to grow, recognize my strengths and use them more effectively to engage, encourage and inspire other women, who like me are childfree by circumstances or by choice and still often deal with expectations from others that are different then their own.
Sometimes it is OK to leave an environment where you feel your value, strengths and talents are not being recognized in order to grow and find new places to thrive.
A sense of community and family can be formed in many ways when there is genuine appreciation, a caring attitude and drive to make a difference.
So, who is Lilly in the process now?
After years of working hard to become an entrepreneur, living in different countries, travelling the world, and learning from various cultures, I can now confidently answer that question:
I am a caring friend, a steady partner, a believer in love and boundaries, a motivational powerhouse, a no-nonsense, pragmatic, hard-working woman, a successful entrepreneur and a bold mentor and coach.