Earlier that day before I made it to D.C., I attended a Continuing Legal Education Course at the New York City Bar Association in Manhattan. I always get a chuckle when I attend courses at the NYC Bar because I am the only person who looks like me in the entire building. Now when I say “who looks like me,” I do not mean I am the only African-American or the only African-American woman there for that matter. I am the only attorney in the building rocking a curly fro and wearing Chuck Taylors. I always scan the room, taking note of the paintings of highly poised and powerful Judges who served years ago and I laugh very hard on the inside and immediately think, “I bet they never thought someone like me would be sitting here.” I also begin to wonder what the other attorneys may be thinking seeing me there and then the lecturer begins to speak and I then focus on what’s important: the material being presented and me becoming a better attorney.
Personality is a major factor in career destiny. Some people are able to quickly discern that they are not “fit” to serve in a corporate environment, while others struggle for years to find a healthy balance between fitting in and being themselves. I always believed that being yourself is most important. If I have ever been turned down for a job or by a client because they were put off by my personality and/or choice of casual attire, I believe we were not meant to work together. More than a paycheck, I need peace of mind and one thing that does not give me peace is attempting to keep this curly fro straight in the humid month of July and wearing suits and panty hose all day so someone else can feel “comfortable.”
Do you worry about fitting in?
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Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row, KinderJam, LLC and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.