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  • Writer's pictureBella Trenkova

Getting A Little Personal

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

This is the first of series of posts where I will be sharing some wisdom bits and lessons-learned that may sound a little too personal and out of place in a professional forum. However, before we became professionals, we were humans first. Ignoring our humanity while trying to build out professional identity is like building a castle on a quicksand. Our foundation must be solid, and our beautiful castle must be firmly attached to it to withstand the tests of time.

Brene Brown teaches us that showing our vulnerability, makes us more connected and ultimately – stronger and happier in all aspects of our life. Here is to opening a little bit and showing my non-professional, mommy side.

For most professional women (and men too) balancing parental responsibilities and a thriving career comes at a steep price – countless sacrifices, lots of self-doubt, and many existential questions:

Am I first and foremost a mom or an IT professional? I love my children, but I also love my work. What are my true priorities?”

“Am I a bad mom because I just rescheduled my son’s dental appointment to accommodate that working session I have been trying to put together for weeks?”

“Is my career at a stall because I can never stay after hours to take any extra assignments to get me to the next level?”

In the earlier years of my career, I also used to compartmentalize fiercely. I used to completely firewall my personal and family life from my professional life to avoid bringing home my work stress, and conversely – leave behind the household minutia to unclutter my business day. For the longest time, I was afraid that if I talk to other soccer moms about my workday I’d sound to them like a weirdo, and if I talk at work about my kids, I’d be perceived as less professional.

Life and experience taught me better:

  • There are no right and wrong answers to the above questions. We are all winging it. The definition of success is so multidimensional, complex and personal that one should never compare her success against anyone else’s. Living in compartments is living without integrity.

  • Instead of thinking in terms of compartments that all need to be fit in the same finite space and fretting how to cut down from one to make room for the other, we should think how we can put them all together and achieve a new “whole” that is bigger and better than the sum of its parts.

  • This and my next blog posts are my attempts of capturing my journey of integrating “work” and “life” and turning the “balancing act” situation where the two are on the opposite sides of the see-saw (and I am ripped apart in the middle) to a “work-life continuum” built on integrity, continuity, and inter-dependence.

In my next post I will share how I aligned my parenting approach to the Lean&Agile values and principles that I wholeheartedly embraced at work, and how they helped me be better and more effective mom.

Conversely, in my following post, I will discuss how my experience raising children and running a household helped me become a better and more successful professional.

For those you who don’t know me beyond my LinkedIn profile – I am a mother of three. A high school junior, a college freshman, and a rising-star data scientist at an Alphabet company – somehow they all survived despite having me as a mother. I have always been a working mom, and for the most part, I raised the kids on my own. I have no shiny badges or 3-letter abbreviations after my name to certify my credibility – take my advice with an open mind and a pinch of humor.

/Fine print: all references to characters and daily activities are actual and true. Life is stranger than fiction – why waste time making up stuff.

Bella Trenkova
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