At the 2016 Digital Library Federation Forum, I participated in a workshop to combat imposter syndrome led by Bess Sadler and following a curriculum developed by the Ada Initiative. The first exercise stemmed from a finding that articulating one’s values resists the impact of stereotype threat. We were asked to identify the values that come to mind when we think of times in our lives when we’ve been the happiest, the proudest, or the most satisfied. We could either circle values from a provided list or name still other values. From the provided list I circled close relationships, integrity, and meaningful work. Off-list I identified engagement and reflection as values that animate me both personally and professionally. Then we were asked to write a few sentences about why one of the values we chose is important to us. Here’s what I wrote:
For me, engagement is the encounter between two hearts and minds, a transformative encounter through which each of us reaches a new frame of understanding through deep listening to the other. Whether intellectual or emotional, engagement is intimate. Engagement requires unmasking, humility, a willingness to relinquish a cherished belief.
The moments when I have felt most dispirited are moments when I felt profoundly not listened to. This self-knowledge is not new. But participating in this reflective workshops reminded me to seek a context that aligns with my values, rather than reshaping myself to suit my context.