3 min read

Bubbly like Bubbles

Bubbly like Bubbles
Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls / Dribbble.com

Today, someone told me that I have a "magical laughter." Not too long ago, I probably would have felt really self-conscious about such a comment.

I have a naturally bubbly personality. I find myself resonating with Bubbles from the Powerpuff Girls. My energy can sometimes lead people to associate me with being cute or ditzy, and they use it to make jokes at my expense. Early in my career, I had a boss who loved to joke that I had probably just graduated from middle-school, because I was so youthful. At another job, someone playfully dubbed me the "team mascot," because I radiated positivity. During a work reunion last year, a former coworker, who had been part of my interview panel, disclosed that despite excelling in algorithms and system design, my interview committee expressed concerns about whether "I would ever have enough gravitas to become a senior engineer," because I was short, bubbly, and had a high-pitched voice.

Comments like these used to make me feel really insecure about my personality. I worried that in order to grow in my career, I couldn't just be myself. As I climbed the corporate ladder, I feared that others dismiss my happy-go-lucky personality as lacking executive presence, and decide that I wasn't worth being taken seriously.

During the interview process for my current job last summer, several people commented on my energy. To my surprise, here's what they said:

Hi Julie I wanted to tell you that I really liked talking to you yesterday. I liked your energy and your questions made me feel like you would be an amazing UberTL.
Hi Julie – thanks again for chatting yesterday. I had a really nice time and do hope you'll consider joining the team. Candidly, I really liked your energy and candor, and I think it would be fun to work together.

I distinctly remember how shocked I was when these strangers (at the time) expressed a genuine appreciation for my energy and communication style. They saw my energy as the reason I would make a strong leader, and it made me start to wonder if maybe I could just be myself at work.

More recently, I've been leading a high-visibility project with watchful eyes from multiple VPs and Directors. When I started on the project, I felt like a little kid who just wanted to hide under the table in every meeting. Through practice and experience, I learned that my executive presence comes from my positivity. Exuding happiness is my unique superpower, and being cheerful while delivering results, even in the face of significant stress, is the reason people take me seriously.

This realization reminded me of a quote I like from Taylor Swift's NYU Commencement speech:

I’d like to say that I’m a big advocate for not hiding your enthusiasm for things. It seems to me that there is a false stigma around eagerness in our culture of “unbothered ambivalence.” This outlook perpetuates the idea that it’s not cool to “want it.” That people who don’t try hard are fundamentally more chic than people who do. And I wouldn’t know because I have been a lot of things but I’ve never been an expert on “chic.” But I’m the one who’s up here so you have to listen to me when I say this: Never be ashamed of trying. Effortlessness is a myth.

I view my "magical laugher" and positive energy today not as something to feel self-conscious about, but as a unique quality and superpower that I wholeheartedly embrace. In fact, that same person from today who told me I have a "magical laughter," also cited it as the reason she accepted the offer to join my team!

Even if my personality defies conventional expectations for how a senior leader should look or behave in someone else's mind, I choose to celebrate being bubbly and enthusiastic. For all of us who identify as Bubbles, let's be unafraid to radiate our positivity, take on challenges with excitement, and let our laughter work its magic in every aspect of our lives.