Around 3 or 4 years ago, my office neighbor, Engineer and Entrepreneur friend, Ricardo, walked into my office a little confused. He said to me something I wouldn't forget...
"Cat, I didn't know you were an engineer!"
My expression must have been a rather blank stare, because for the life of me, I could not understand what on earth would have given him that idea. The sign on my door clearly illustrated that I owned and operated a marketing company. Why would he think I'm an engineer?
At first I rejected it.
I rejected it with, "No, Ricardo, I'm just a marketer."
Little did I know, my office (or perhaps 'lab') looked as though I was not only constructing marketing formulas, I was also surrounded by books, charts, graphs and whiteboard papers everywhere, mapping out theories and processes.
Ricardo discounted my personal label assessment and said, "No, Cat, you are clearly an engineer."
This time I didn't reject his hypothesis of my work situation. I just smiled.
I had a lot of ideas. I had a lot of hunches, and I had a deep desire to utilize my brain power to its fullest capacity. Ever since I was in elementary school, teachers would comment that my questions were good. My questions were a few steps farther ahead than that of my classmates. While my academic grades may not have accurately reflected my intelligence, I was in fact a very contemplative thinker.
It wasn't until Ricardo pinpointed the "engineering persona" that made me reflect on this more. I liked the way it sounded, I did delve into my subjects of interest with great scrutiny and formulate ideas way beyond the point where other entrepreneurs would have 'launched' or 'succumbed'.
I felt uncomfortable with the label of engineer because in my mind, that was someone who was 'educated' and I wasn't very much an 'academic'. I gained much of my knowledge and skillsets from my mentors, my personal experience (good and bad) and experimenting. If following your intuition was an accredited degree, I could probably teach the subject, or earn a doctorate. I wasn't anything more than a poser engineer.
And one thing I truly despise is imitations, replicas and disingenuousness. The entire adage of "fake it until you make it" is absurd. It promotes imposter syndrome, idolizing charlatans. It adds insult to real skill and knowledge, which I've always respected, no matter how it was acquired. It placed shame on the art of struggle, learning, failing and growing, after all, every professional was once an amateur whom gained a lot of experience. Experience is truly what closes the gap between the amateurs and the professionals.
I've been doing a great deal of self-reflection and study the past two years--more intensely than ever before--as some of you know, I've coined this phase of my life as my unplanned sabbatical. This is when I realized, yes, I am an engineer. I'm an E.E. Not an Electrical Engineer, but an Empirical Engineer. And I've chosen to proudly embrace it. Someone can say she's a college drop out, and discount my studies, call me a fraud, or criticize my pursuits, but none of that changes the outcome: I produce quality work and push my intellect to new extremes each day. For the first time in my adult life, I feel I can truly identify as more than just a marketer.
More thoughts on this in the weeks ahead.