Sorry, Not Sorry: Going from Peer-Approval to Self-Appreciation

Nitya Narasimhan

Levitt Auditorium • October 28 • 10:30 am

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I’ve spent nearly two decades in tech trying to “fit in” with assigned labels, roles and expectations. And it wasn’t till recently, when I started paying attention to the stories and narratives shared by other women in tech, that I had an epiphany.

In seeking peer approval, I often undermined my own achievements or experience by saying or doing things that reflected undeserved value onto others (“we” were able to achieve XYZ ) or projected a lack of confidence in myself (“does that make sense?”) when my intent was to be inclusive.

The more I read about this, the more I realized this is a trait ingrained in many women, either by culture (I am of South Asian / Indian origin) or societal norms (compliant vs. assertive) and that, in the pursuit of peer approval, we erode our own sense of self-appreciation. We fail to understand and value the real impact and magnitude of things that we achieve on a daily basis.

As someone who juggles parenting, development, community organizing, public speaking and training - while also trying to build a brand and business - I speak from experience. We spend a lot of time trying craft our appearance, manners and words to please others - and when we don’t get the appreciation we expect, we internalize this and wish we could be different, more like someone else.

How can we break that cycle?

“Sorry, not sorry” was my call-to-action to myself to stop being (or appearing) apologetic and complimentary in situations where those actions effectively undermined my competency or achievements. It is an ongoing attempt to uncover the real motivations behind actions that I take, and consciously make better decisions that put more emphasis on self-care than peer approval.

In this talk I hope to share stories and articles that inspired me, takeaways from my own experiments to make small changes that I hope will lead to a happier life in a relentlessly driven tech ecosystem.