My Promotion, Your Problem – The New York Times

Submit questions about the office, money, careers, and work-life balance to friendofwork@nytimes.com. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Lyrics can be edited.

I’ve been a librarian for almost 20 years and, due to a wave of retirements, I’ve moved up the ladder very quickly. My supervisors value me and I recently applied for and was offered a position that puts me in charge of my own library. It’s just me and another guy working at this place. The other librarian has been in the field for almost as long as I live, and I know she applied for the position.

This has caused some discomfort and is something we have not discussed. We hardly spoke to each other at all. She was very surprised and upset by the fact that she was not chosen for the position. I think she even she may be looking for a fix. How can I build a good relationship in these circumstances? How can I stay confident in my abilities and fight imposter syndrome? I just want to be on friendly terms and do what’s right for her while feeling safe enough to make the necessary changes. Circumstances have really sucked away many of the joys that should come with this new opportunity.

– Anonymous

Congratulations on your new position. I appreciate the care with which you look forward to working with your colleague. While you are not responsible for her not getting her position, I understand how you might resent being passed over for a promotion. If she seeks a fix, all she can do is let the process work itself out.

Meanwhile, 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 her role and how you can have a successful working relationship. Acknowledge her disappointment, but don’t take responsibility, because that responsibility is not yours.

You also have to trust that you earned your position. Make any changes you think should be made. Ask her colleague what changes she would like to see and try to find ways to work with her instead of taking a more harsh top-down approach. This is an opportunity to find out what kind of leader you can be. Given the questions she’s asking, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.


After four years of self-employment, I have decided to return to a director-level internal position. But as I take Zoom interview after Zoom interview, I feel like I’m committing a sin of omission by not disclosing my body.

I weigh 450lbs on a 5ft 10in frame. Why do I think this matters? Because it requires adaptations. Flying first class or reserving two seats, getting theater aisle seats, requesting special work clothes, possibly refusing team meals or client meetings due to seating options (a physical limitation and excruciating anxiety induced by what that I perceive as flimsy or inadequate chairs).

Employers expect directors and executives to attend off-site conferences, events and meetings, sometimes on short notice. I do not consider these requests unreasonable, but these implied job duties 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 honestly, that feels embarrassing. Existing in a world that doesn’t fit your size is enough of a burden without having to preemptively address it. I clearly feel shame about the extra space my body demands, and I have made slow but steady progress with those feelings over years of therapy.

What’s a person who isn’t physically built for white-collar leadership requirements to do when virtual interviews and most remote work keep their size a secret?

– Anonymous

I can relate to everything you have written here. I wrote a whole book about it called “Hunger”. When you’re fat, there are many challenges, physical and emotional, to navigate in a world that is 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. It is not, as writer Sonya Renee Taylor reminds us, a problem. And it’s not a secret. I urge you to try to reframe your understanding of your body and be kinder to yourself.

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