My #2018Liberation list

Karolina Szczur
Jan 4, 2018 · 3 min read

Thanks to Cate Huston’s and Ellen Pao’s writing, I’ve stumbled upon a wonderful idea of instead of starting the year with setting numerous goals, focusing on what we’ll be letting go instead.

I feel like this is especially crucial for underrepresented groups, who are always forced to prove themselves over and over, set unattainable goals and push themselves ten times harder to achieve a status resembling your average white male.

It’s us who rise to the laborious task of building safer, more inclusive communities. It’s us who jeopardise our safety to call out bad actors and go on worldwide stages to speak on difficult subjects of the toxic tech industry.

To a lot of thankless emotional, professional labour at the expense of our careers, mental and physical safety I say no more.

Here’s my #2018Liberation list, and I hope you’ll write yours, too.

  • Conference organising. I’m closing on my fifteenth event. It’s been a wonderful, but draining and mostly thankless journey. After 2018, I’m hanging up my organiser hat (I’m still planning to publish a few resources and coach others, if they have funds to cover my consulting fees).
  • Diversity apologetics. I’m tired of excuses. There are numerous examples of diversity and inclusion strategies that yield positive results. There just wasn’t enough care to invest in them or individuals who could lend this expertise.
  • Obligation to reply to everyone. I don’t owe every single email, tweet or a message a reply. What’s a minute to bash out for some, can take hours of my time to mull over and provide a conclusive, exhaustive answer. I don’t owe anyone my time, if it’s not productive or aligning with my values.
  • White feminism. The diversity and inclusion movement is heavily whitewashed by wealthy, CIS, men and women. If feminism, allyship or what have you isn’t intersectional and going beyond binary gender — there’s work to be done. Both feminism and allyship aren’t fashionable lifestyle choices, no matter what mainstream press is feeding to the masses.
  • Free emotional labour as well as free diversity and inclusion consultations. In the time I’ve spent advising on D&I for free I could have probably founded two businesses by now. If there’s need for my expertise, it has to be paid for.
  • Apologising for existing.
  • Body shaming. All women have been constantly fed false ideals of beauty and physical appearance. These impossible, unhealthy standards led to mental breakdowns and eating disorders. I’m going to love my body, no matter what shape or form it takes.
  • Sacrificing my priorities. I’m not going to commit to anything against my set of values I worked hard on to define. There’s no way of guilting me into an obligation without this alignment.
  • Being a token woman. I don’t speak at events without an enforceable Code of Conduct. I won’t present in an all-male panel. I have strict rules for stage appearances.
  • Putting up with abusers and trolls. There is no patience, my boy. Only mute, block, report, goodbye.
  • Guilt of not being person X living in the Silicon Valley working for a Fortune 100 startup and outputting a million side projects per year. I probably never will relocate to United States and be able to land any of the fancy, well paid jobs in the tech industry. I’ve made peace with this reality and I’m content wherever my future takes me. No more fake unicorn race.

Today, I’m freeing myself.

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