Growing up in Orange County wasn’t always easy for Liz De la Cruz. As a daughter of immigrant parents—her mother is from Mexico while her father is from Guatemala—she struggled to find a sense of belonging.
“As humans, we feel like we need to belong — being Hispanic and speaking Spanish was not very American. So, when I was younger, I spoke mainly English at home and at school because I didn't want to have an accent. I didn't want to be made fun of.”
Then at age 15, Liz decided to embrace her Hispanic heritage, changing her life—and the way she viewed herself—forever. She began watching Spanish television shows with English subtitles to immerse herself in the Spanish language.
As a teenager, I cared a lot about what people thought about me, and I just wanted to belong somewhere. Now, I don't care. I am who I am. If I'm more American, more Hispanic, it doesn't matter to me. I love both sides of my culture.”
<quote-author>LIZ DE LA CRUZ<quote-author>
Paving the path to a rewarding career
Liz’s journey to human resources (HR) started with her love for science as a young girl and her experience with anxiety as a high school student. She found a psychologist who helped her manage her mental health and introduced her to different types of human-centered sciences, inspiring Liz to study industrial and organizational psychology in college. From there, she took classes in business and discovered HR, her current role.
“I strive to earn people's trust. Having a person be comfortable with me, knowing that I am here to help them, that's my top priority. I want to make life easier for the people that I'm working with and for.”
As the first of five children to graduate from college, a bachelor’s degree in psychology was a huge accomplishment not only for Liz, but for her entire family.
"I didn't have anyone telling me what I should do. I had to seek that help. I had to go to the counseling office, I had to go to the professors. My parents had no idea how the education system works and what I needed to do to graduate. I had to be on top of everything without having someone to rely on in my family. So my achievement makes me really proud.”
Addressing mental health in the workplace
Liz has generalized anxiety disorder. But instead of seeing her diagnosis as an obstacle, Liz sees it as a strength. Her understanding of her own mental health struggles makes her more empathetic and relatable to others. “I try to help people out as much as I can... If I see someone is struggling, I know what resources we can for them.”
As for Liz’s anxiety — she is resilient. She challenges her anxiety by going outside her comfort zone and pushing herself to do the things that scare her the most.
Trying new things makes me really anxious because the unknown is very scary to me. But I still push myself to do them because I don't want my anxiety to take over my life. I don't want to revolve my life around that anxiety. I'm in control of my life. My anxiety is not in control of me.”
<quote-author>LIZ DE LA CRUZ<quote-author>
Seeking the right job culture
Finding the right job culture that matches your interests is a big deal. After spending so much time at work, whether in the office or remotely, the culture must fit your needs to be enjoyable. “It needs to have a fun and safe environment, somewhere you generally want to be,” Liz says.
When working with a fully remote team, it can feel impossible to find culture in the workplace. Liz found it in a less-than-obvious place: over Slack. Not only does Liz use Slack as a platform for work-related chats, but she uses the channels to interact with team members on a personal level. She joined Theorem’s foodie and cat channels and loves engaging with her coworkers in that forum to learn about others’ experiences and cultures. And as a proud kitten owner, Liz never grows tired of talking felines with her fellow team members.
The importance of self-care
Liz takes care of others everyday at work, but always takes the time to care for herself too. Watching The Office and listening to true crime podcasts (especially ones that catch the bad guys) are two ways Liz unwinds after a long day. Venting to friends is also a solid coping mechanism for her anxiety—“It releases everything that I’ve built up in me”—while setting boundaries for herself (and actually sticking to them) has allowed her to cultivate strong, healthy relationships.
In her human resources role, Liz passes along the self-care lessons and coping mechanisms she’s learned over the years, supporting others in both their professional and personal growth. With the pandemic and continued uncertainty in the world, her work is as important as ever.