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Am I Good Enough to be Here?

Jan 21, 2016

Navigating between merit and diverse inclusivity is profoundly hard. Sometimes I end up on the sad side of the fence.

It has been a banner year so far, 2016. I've been included in some frankly amazing things: events, publications, conversations. There are things coming up this year that I'm just bursting to tell you all about (I will as soon as I can!). At times I stop to reflect that I just cannot believe how fortunate I am to have so many opportunities.

But as happens every so often, I'm not so sure I deserve this. I want to believe I'm invited to speak because I'm becoming reasonably good at it, that magazines want to hear what I have to say because what I have to say is cogent. Sometimes I believe that to be the case.

But at other times, I worry. Like today. I got invited to speak at an event far away in an interesting place, and, man, that would be awesome except that by some coincidence I am already slated to be at an event far away in an interesting place at the same time, so I had to decline. Instead, I passed along the name of a talented male colleague as a possible alternative.

The response:

Thanks...though I'm specifically looking to get more ladies on my lineup.

OK. I get it. Organizers want to have diverse lineups. But spelling it out to me like this makes me feel wretched. Is my gender my only qualification? Would I have made the cut if I weren't a woman? Am I really qualified to be doing anything that I'm doing? Do I bring anything useful to the community?

I know that the sentiment behind things like this is a desire to bring more voices to the fore, to give changes to under-represented folks. But it hobbles me with self-doubt.