Why Support Systems are SO Important– Srihitha Pallapothula

Sheila (not her real name) worked at Company XYZ for just over fifteen years before deciding to take a break from her career in order to focus on her family. Time and time again, she was offered higher level positions, but she continued to reject them. She was– and still is– qualified, talented, smart, and hardworking.

Sheila struggled mentally during her last few years at Company XYZ, constantly weighing the pros and cons of leaving the organization she found herself so attached to: the fabulous work culture, delicious food, company benefits, and so much more.

When she complained to her friends about her struggles, they simply waved her off, laughing.

When she tried to explain to her parents and in laws that she planned to quit her job, they scrunched their noses and questioned her choices.

When she told her children that she was ready to shift her focus from work to family, they looked up surprised and asked her “What about the company picnics?”

Everyone Sheila told thought that she was being silly. After all, how could someone be struggling, living a picture perfect life while working at a picture perfect company?

But Sheila knew that something was wrong. Struggling to catch up with new changes being introduced, she slowly began to lose motivation and found herself competing with interns fresh out of college.

Company XYZ tried their best: giving her resources, coaching, and more than enough time to sharpen her skills.

But Sheila resisted letting herself become idle.

In July of 2018, while visiting family, Sheila decided that she had enough. Her health, mental and physical, what she wanted, and a new vision of her future were finally put at the forefront.

It took her two years to reach a point where she felt comfortable leaving Company XYZ.

Two years. Seven hundred and thirty days of agonizing over whether or not this was the right decision for her future, her family, and for her career.

Why?

Because Sheila did not have a strong support system.

No one really backed her throughout her journey. Starting from the moment she announced that she wanted to quit her job, her friends, family, and peers all questioned her forcing Sheila to overthink every little aspect of her decision.

Just try to imagine how many womxn and nonbinary people are struggling with these important decisions concerning their careers. Sheila is only one of many.

As minorities in the STEAM community, it is our responsibility to step up and provide our peers with the support, empathy, care, and understanding that they need.


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