Over the past few days, I’ve had a thought occur to me, seemingly, out of the blue. I wear many hats (as in the idiom, because I don’t literally wear hats unless you loosely count a hijab as a hat which, let’s be real, is an incorrect classification); balancing life in the segments of full-time university, part-time work, overarching ProjectFunction, semi-occasional podcasting, etc. And, if you are now thinking this is the article wherein, I’ll address how this is manageable or whether it’s even smart or healthy, I’m afraid I’m going to immediately disappoint you. That is a discussion for a Riz in the future.
Anyway, back to the presence of a particular, reoccurring thought.
Amidst wearing the ProjectFunction hat, I’ve had the privilege of working towards a world where people whom may be seen as outsiders are given centre stage. I’ve shared this sentiment on Twitter, in meetings, or in front of an audience, in one form or another. It’s an eleven-worded sentence that, in all honesty, is easier said than done. Alas, it’s a dream. And whilst I rarely tire of believing we won’t only be dreaming this dream, that this can be a future we’ll actually be living, I’m always equally conscious of my own ignorance and lack of real-world experience to be speaking up about this dream of great significance.
As you may know, I’m a big fan of Hamilton The Musical. Music aside, I am moved most by its words, and on this occasion, I relate especially to those said by George Washington, delivering his farewell speech:
“I am unconscious of intentional error
I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects
Not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.”
Questions like – what gives me the right to know what efforts are needed? Should I be the one to be advocating for this? Have I understood the delicacies of all those involved? Or am I basing my presumptions into facts, further solidified by public approval or applause? – are forever on my mind. They, too, take one form or another. But they remain.
Thus, this split between wanting an outcome but feeling unqualified to understand the whole picture, or worse, taking the place of someone better equipped or deserving, is a funny, unsettling (perhaps, common?) contradiction.
Because I have experienced numerous instances of people who moved to Saudi Arabia (where I grew up) or were visiting for a few weeks, being surprised that we had a mall, a social life, roads, or even a McDonald’s, and so on, I often joke that people think I lived in a tent in a desert. It isn’t that they were inherently mean-spirited people or trying to be rude when they expressed their shock, they genuinely had not fathomed these advancements a possibility in my desert land.
Occasionally, at this point in life in UK, I find myself in similar, oblivious shoes in Technology. The comparison is far-fetched, yes, but maybe I don’t know anything about the possibility of this dream I dream of fairer representation in Tech, and far beyond.
The thought that encouraged me to write this all out, stemmed from a state of sustained puzzlement. I’ve come to realise that whilst I definitely do not have all the answers, and certainly can’t rush my way through this journey of learning, I do have to remember that I, too, belong under the banner of people whom I set out to dream for. That I am a part of those who may be seen outsiders. For even as only a junior in this industry, when I am at events or conferences, the faces in the crowd do not resemble mine.
That I, still, distinctly stand out amongst the majority.
I’m unsure if this is a self-centred or selfish approach, but this very distinction rejuvenates my confidence for donning on the ProjectFunction hat with more urgency. It works to make me work. I’ve even noticed this amongst our whole, diverse PF team, something we’ve all bonded over in between running the project. For me, it’s a special thread that holds us united.
By the end of this all, I admit my reoccurring thought may have been a sort of prompt all along. After all,
a great deal is expected of anyone who's been given a lot
Until next time.