Being Your Shameless Self

Lilly Shi - Product Manager at Roblox


There was this one time in 4th grade and we went on a school field trip at a park nearby. Most of the class was into soccer, and I wasn't super into that (I was a pretty clumsy kid).  My two best friends and I ran around the park and climbed trees. I have this distinct memory of being on top of a tree eating our lunches from brown bags and watching our classmates play soccer and not participating.  If I were to psychoanalyze myself this memory is my fondest because it was one of the first times I was doing something I wanted to do rather than doing what everybody else was doing. It was the first time I remember being like ‘mm nah’ and being comfortable in that decision.

I went to Stanford and got my Bachelors in Architecture Design and Engineering and my Masters in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Mechatronics. I remember the distinct moment in college when I was in a group project with 3 other guys and they were talking about dating and Tinder. They went on to talk about my friend and her body, making me extremely uncomfortable and I didn’t know how to react. That’s when I understood what it meant when people they say that tech can be a boys club. Despite that experience, I was able to find an environment in engineering where I can feel like myself. I like the mix of nerdiness and passion. I respect people that are shamelessly passionate about something. I’ve found a career trajectory that is on pace with how I want my life to be. I remember at one of my old jobs my coworker would always say that ‘we churn, we talk about things, and no decisions are made.’ I panicked because that is not an environment I wanted to be a part of socially or professionally. I was able to switch career trajectories and now work as a product manager at Roblox in Silicon Valley.

I feel a lot dualities in my life. I feel like there are two threads pulling me in opposite directions and I am trying to figure out how to reconcile them. I struggle with a life secure and a life of spontaneity and unconventionality. On one hand you want to make sure your basic needs are covered. There is a sense of security in knowing where you will be in five years, and we all try to fit into the classic standards of success and happiness. It’s terrifying when you start to understand ‘how much money you need to be successful’, ‘ where you need to go on vacation’ , ‘when you need to buy a house’.  Having the sense of self to say yes to some of those ideas and no to some of them is hard. For a long time I’ve tangled with my motivations vs the motivations of the people around me. The people around you want what’s best for you but they don’t always know what that is. I am continuously learning about what’s best for myself and how to express myself.