I grew up intimidated by authority figures, especially managers and doctors. I rarely questioned anything they said because they were the experts, right?
Then two things happened: I got a female mentor at work and I joined a support organization. I also got older, so I guess that makes three things.
I worked in a male-dominated industry (software engineering) and rarely saw other women. Whenever I went to a conference, the line for the men’s room wrapped around the building, but I pretty much had the ladies’ room all to myself. When my company acquired another company, suddenly I had a new manager. A female manager. She saw something in me and taught me to be prepared. She taught me to speak up in meetings. She taught me about leadership. I stopped being intimidated by managers.
During the time I was working with my mentor, my polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms started getting worse. (PCOS is related to insulin resistance, by the way.) Online I stumbled onto a mailing list for women with PCOS. Wow! There were other people out there like me who were frustrated because their doctor pooh-poohed their symptoms and didn’t know much about treating PCOS. Unlike me, these women were taking control of the situation. They found the few doctors who did have answers, held conferences and invited the doctors to speak, and started educating women. Talk about empowerment! I got so inspired, I ended up being on TV with my doctor talking about PCOS. I stopped being intimidated by doctors.
My, how things have changed. There are some people in my life who would have trouble believing I was ever intimidated by anyone. In fact, my stepdaughter even nicknamed me “The Shelbinator” a few years ago! The only times I feel daunted these days are when I’m not prepared. But that preparation and education is up to me. If I ever feel intimidated, it’s because I didn’t do my homework.
Knowledge truly is power.