Hello my name is Violet Alexandre a passionate entrepreneur who connected with Lynn Ponder’s movement online #BeNumberless, through the power of social media. I can’t say I ever gave it any real thought or did I ever let it stop me, but the reality is that my age has almost always played a role in my professional life and accomplishments for better or for worse.
It all starts back to my starting college early. At the age of 16, I found myself surrounded by other students who were 18 or older. I tried to hide the fact that I was young. Many of my professors and other adults praised me for my age and accomplishments, while the people that I wanted to like and accept me, other college students, made judgments about me. It made it hard for me to fit in. The way I handled that was to throw myself in knee deep into my studies and work career. This ended up further contributing to the impact my age would continue to have on me.
By the age of 20, I found myself working in a male dominated environment where I was literally the youngest person who had ever worked for the company. I had landed a job as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Eli Lilly. While to this day I am extremely proud of this accomplishment, it was also a really challenging environment for me to thrive professionally. The environment is one where credibility is often judged by your age and sex, and on both fronts, I was on the losing side of these markers. What I found though was I was able to differentiate myself. I positioned myself as a young and exceptionally hard working woman who knew her stuff inside and out. I studied constantly to find ways to be more knowledgeable than others around me. I fully owned my youth and femininity and it paid off. I won multiple sales awards during my time there.
The rest of my career path has continued to be one where I put myself in challenging environments were inevitably being a young woman could hold me back, but instead I used that as a motivating factor. I wasn’t ever going to let anyone stop me. I went on to several other positions in which I proved my ability to achieve as well as exceed expectations.
The funny thing is, now that I am a woman in my 30’s with a family, I face different challenges. I face different stereotypes and no longer struggle with credibility in the way I did before. I love being a mom and embrace it, but so often I find that I can see in others that this isn’t necessarily professionally what they want to see from me. It is a quandary, one that I think about often to be who I am, or to be who others think they need me to be.
The #BeNumberless campaign is something I truly believe in. As women, no matter what stage we are at, we should be able to be who we are and not fear in anyway that this will negatively impact us. I encourage everyone, including myself to embrace being numberless. I will not hide who I am today and the pride I have as a mom. I know with complete certainty that who I am is only enhanced by my being a woman and a mom in my 30s. I won’t let anyone’s perceptions around my age and stage stop me from reaching all my goals personally and professionally. So join me and #BeNumberless.