I'm very shy. A Myers-Briggs ISFJ personality type in fact.
Yet, I stand out. It was noticeably uncomfortable in the beginning. When I attended my first several cybersecurity events mid career, I was one of the few women in the room. Not only was I a visible minority, or woman of color, in a male-dominated space, I was also a woman of color with platinum blonde hair and, well, colorful attire.
I may be an ISFJ but my fashion spells "extra"-vert. You see, I love (j'adore!) fashion, bold colors, high heels, bright lipstick. In a sea of grey and black business ensembles, my caramel skin, fuchsia Breathing Fire MAC lipstick and neon Michael Kors Claire pumps stand out.
In those moments as a pronounced visible female minority, it felt like junior high and high school all over again. I am an outcast. I don't fit in. I don't belong.
I suddenly became desperate to be unseen. Why did I come here? I should leave.
I didn't leave. In fact, in cybersecurity I stayed and have flourished.
It didn't take long for me to understand these facts:
Men outnumber women 4:1 in the IT and cyber workforce;
I'm not meant to wear grey or fit into the norm and that's okay; and
I can choose to see the opportunity.
I chose to seize the opportunity on my terms to distinguish myself as a fashionable (and colorful) cybersecurity practitioner, with no dedicated technical background, who brings a unique story of reinvention to cybersecurity; who is a proud single mom of two kids; who is resilient in overcoming trauma; and who has achieved so much--emotionally, mentally and physically--because I believe I am to meant to help others and achieve great things. This is the inspiration behind Cyber & Sapphire. And here I excitedly introduce my brand statement:
Fashion meets IT. Lipstick meets Cyber.®
It took half my life to get here, and my journey tested my very wit, grit and strength. There were distinct moments that brought me to my knees and cost me almost everything.
I do not hold a medical degree or PhD specializing in psychiatry or neuroscience. I'm not here to tell you the life-changing choices you make will be easy. Because it's not. I'm here to tell you what I can impart about overcoming adversity and building resilience based on my own first-hand experiences as well as the tools and techniques I learned from professionals, life coaches and mentors.
There will be some of you who will find my candor too bold, my spirit too colorful. And that's okay too because my story is not for everyone. It's for those going through the stages of adversity, disruption and reinvention.
So before you turn the page to learn more about my story, I want to introduce you to the amazing and beautiful women who helped me bring my "woman in cyber" brand to life in friendship and in vogue.
Blog Thumbnail Photo Credit: @thehairloungeairdrie