• Debbie Baute

Who do you want to be proud of you (and do they know?)

This afternoon I had a wonderful zoom conversation with my former professor Daniella Goldfarb. She guided my first steps into science and supervised all of the consequent steps until I finished my PhD. Next to being a magnificent scientist, Daniella was also my first role model as a female leader. Whenever I was doubting my next step, she told me: it does not matter what you do, as long as you do your best.


Next to her high standards in the lab (where she built her own W-band EPR spectrometer!), she was also a wonderful person, inviting me into her home to celebrate the Jewish holidays. As I had the same age as her eldest daughter, there inevitably was some mother-daughter energy between us.

You can imagine the dread I felt when I had to tell her, only 1,5 yrs after finishing my PhD., that I was going to quit science. I felt quite ashamed. As if all of the effort she put in me, was wasted.


I did not speak to her since.


But this afternoon we talked. It has been 15 years since we spoke last. She asked how I was doing. I told her I still feel bad for letting her down, by quitting science.

She reacted in the most beautiful way.

She asked me: “WHY do you think that? I am so proud of you! It is sooo much harder to start a business from scratch, like you did. And you seem to be very good at it!”


I felt my eyes tearing up.


I did not realize how important her approval still was to me. But it is. It feels now, I have come full circle. Things are falling into place. I am not letting my role model down… It is OK to follow my own path.


It brought me to this question: who do you want to be proud of you? And do they even know? (I definitely recommend having this kind of discussion with them!)