My Promotion, Its Problem - The New York Times

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Send questions about office, money, careers and work-life balance to workfriend@nytimes.com. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters can be changed.

I’m a librarian in my late twenties, and due to a wave of retirements, I’ve risen through the ranks very quickly. My supervisors like me and I recently applied and was offered a job that puts me in charge of my own library. It’s just another person and myself working there. The other librarian has been in the business almost as long as I’ve been alive, and I know she applied for the job.

It created some awkwardness and that’s something we didn’t discuss. We barely talk to each other. She was very surprised and upset that she was not chosen for the job. I think she can even ask for compensation. How can I build a good relationship under these circumstances? How can I stay confident in my abilities and fight impostor syndrome? I just want to be on good terms and do the right thing with her while feeling confident enough to make the necessary changes. Circumstances have really sucked away much of the joys that should come with this new opportunity.

– Anonymous

Congratulations on your new position. I appreciate the care with which you expect to work with your colleague. While you’re not responsible for her not getting your job, I understand that she might resent being passed over for a promotion. If it asks for redress, all you can do is let the process happen on its own.

In the meantime, you want to build a constructive relationship with your colleague. Too often we avoid talking about what we really need to talk about. It might be helpful to sit down with her and talk about your roles and how you can have a successful working relationship. Acknowledge his disappointment, but don’t take responsibility for it because that responsibility is not yours.

You must also have confidence that you have earned your position. Make any changes you deem necessary. Ask your colleague what changes she would like to see and try to find ways to work with her instead of taking a more top-down approach. This is an opportunity to find out what kind of leader you can be. Given the questions you ask, I’m sure you’ll be wonderful.


After four years of freelance work, I decided to return to an internal management position. But as I take Zoom interview after Zoom interview, I feel like I’m committing a sin of omission, of not revealing my body.

I weigh 450 pounds on a 5ft 10in frame. Why do I think this is important? Because it requires adjustments. Flying first class or reserving two seats, taking seats in the theater aisle, ordering special work clothes, potentially refusing team meals or client meetings due to seating options (a physical limitation and a unbearable anxiety induced by what I perceive as flimsy or inadequate chairs).

Employers expect directors and executives to attend offsite conferences, events and meetings, sometimes without notice. I don’t consider these demands unreasonable, but these implied tasks only fuel my concern.

Part of me thinks that if I get an offer, I should have a quick chat with the hiring manager about reasonable accommodations for travel, conferences, and in-person meetings. But, quite honestly, it’s embarrassing. Existing in a world that doesn’t scale to your size is enough of a burden without having to approach it preemptively. Obviously, I feel shame at the extra space my body requires, and I have made slow but steady progress with these feelings over the years of therapy.

What should someone do who isn’t physically built for the demands of white-collar leadership when virtual interviews and the majority of remote work keep your height a secret?

– Anonymous

I can identify with everything you wrote here. I wrote an entire book about it called “Hunger”. When you’re fat, there are many challenges, physical and emotional, to navigating a world that’s generally quite hostile to fat bodies. That said, you are not committing a sin of omission by not revealing your body, because your body is not a sin. That’s not, as writer Sonya Renee Taylor reminds us, a problem. And it’s no secret. I urge you to try to reframe your understanding of your body and be more gentle with yourself.

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