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  • Writer's pictureOsnat Benari

Self-reinvention and starting from scratch with Jillian Tirath

Jillian laughed at starting from scratch as she's had a series of those and admitted, "it's actually cathartic for me."

Jillian is originally from Trinidad. "When you live on a small island, you spend your time looking out, and I was no different," she recalls. To save for her new planned life, she used her life savings, paid off her debt, sold her car, and moved to NJ.

"I was 28, so far from everything I knew so well. It was so cold that I picked up running to maintain my mental health and quite honestly because it was too cold to walk that I had to run. No one knew me or seemed to care about getting to know me. I realized I identified by my career only and had no personal identity of my own." Being thankful for the experience that got her to understand how resilient and adaptable she was, Jillian noticed that she needed to find her identity first.

Later Jillian moved to Florida as her husband found a job there. "One day at work, I got a paper cut and asked for a plaster instead of a bandaid, which no one knew what it is, so they couldn't help me. My accent made it sound like I was calling a colleague Bob instead of her real name, Barb. It's experiences like that where you realize you don’t fit in or you don’t belong that set you back".

The starter that she is, Jillian decided to work on changing and adapting and learned to pronounce the American accent. "I morphed myself to fit externally. Internally I was still adapting." As the years went by, Jillian progressed at work, advancing professionally. She traveled the world and felt confident, but at home, now mother to a newborn son, she felt she kept resetting and struggling personally.

She met a friend who supported her personal growth through her son's school. "I started to level set, being true to myself, and realized I was an imposter in my personal life. This change led to my reset at work as well. I am a mom, minority, female, and a first-generation immigrant and instead of embracing these intersectionalities, I kept trying to become like those around me. As I began to mentor people and speak about my experiences, I realized people valued this in me, and I didn't. This recognition led me to start supporting more first-generation immigrants, women at the workplace, and advocate for working parents, and started to grow my network exponentially’

Jillian finally found herself and calibrated the inner and outer self. "I changed as a person and as a leader and found my why. I was confident, and stronger, learned to lean on my network and pay it forward. I'm not afraid to change, but I'm intentional on the change I make".

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