Today I wanted to talk about self-confidence, and just how far it can take you (spoiler alert–you can get pretty dang far.) I’ve recently undergone some changes in my life, the first of which being that I finally secured a good, stable job. But that’s a subject for another time–right now I want to focus on how I got this job, and the emotional turmoil I had to go through in order to push myself hard enough to make the change that I needed.
I don’t know if any of you have ever read Amanda Palmer’s autobiography, The Art of Asking, but in case you haven’t–here is one of my absolute favorite passages:
“Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why do I keep making the same mistakes over and over again?”
“Because, love–it doesn’t hurt enough yet.”
Right there, in that moment, I had my first “Eureka!” moment. If you are not happy, it is so important to make a change–but it’s MORE than that–I want you to know that you are perfectly capable of making changes in your own life. You don’t ever have to feel stuck. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt & what I’ve heard described as “Imposter Syndrome”. (It basically means that even though you are absolutely qualified to do what you do, you often feel like you don’t know what you’re doing & you’re faking it to get by). I never reached for anything simply because it never occurred to me that I could–does that make any sense?
This is actually my third time changing jobs this year, and with any luck it will be my last. I left job #1 after having been there over two years simply because the commute was killer (It was 62 miles one way.) I have nothing but good memories and love for that time in my life, but I knew it was time to make a change.
Here’s where the going gets tough–I jumped into job #2 without any sort of research on my part, which was negligent and downright stupid. (If I could impart any sort of wisdom when job searching….ALWAYS do your research.) This position turned out to be the worst situation I could have gotten myself into. I worked there for maybe 3 months and ran out of the door as quickly as I could. I cried almost every night, and I was too stressed to function properly. I left work everyday constantly feeling like a failure, and felt that I was going to be miserable there forever. In that moment, I definitely hurt enough.
I won’t spend time boring you with the details of every reason I think this job was awful, because:
- I don’t think it’s morally right to speak badly of others
- what could I possibly gain from that? That time in my life is so thankfully over, and there’s no use crying over it (anymore, at least!). It’s certainly never going to show up on my resume, that’s for sure.
So often you hear the well-meant phrase, “Quitters never win” or something akin to that–the whole idea that it’s important to push yourself and finish what you’ve started.
I understand why this is an important message, but in my mind this is not always the right message. In some cases, I think it takes much more strength and courage to admit to yourself that something isn’t right for you, and it’s okay to quit. But that’s the scariest part–what do you do with yourself when you realize that it’s time to leave? For me, that meant calling in & spending two full days
binge-watching Sailor Moon Crystal looking for work full-time.
I pushed myself beyond my self-doubts, and that persistence paid off. I now work in a place that brings me joy, and I’ve found myself surrounded by positive energy and creative, like-minded individuals. (& some not like-minded–but that makes it even better.)
I think I’m getting a little too wordy, so here’s the part where I skip to the “How I did it” phase. Below are some helpful tips about job searching–keep in mind that I’m definitely no professional, and that these are simply the things that I feel helped me the most.
Find A Good Support System
I fully understand that if it weren’t for my wonderful roommate & my dad, I would not have had the confidence to make this happen. Every night that I would come home crying, my roommate would gently remind me of what I’m trying to tell you now–that you’re so much better than you think you are. She encouraged me to keep pushing forward and to not be afraid, and gave me so many helpful tips along the way.
Set A Goal
This helps a lot, because The Search can be overwhelming. Do what is best for you–I told myself I wanted to apply to a least two jobs a day. People will try to tell you that’s not enough, but don’t listen.
Do Your Research
I’m the poster child of “fly by the seat of your pants.” I’m pretty impulsive, forgetful & I don’t always have the attention span required. However, if you want to avoid being miserable, this is the most important step. You can do this! Find a job you think would be a good fit, and tell this employer why you’re the best! (Because you are.)
Customize Your Resume
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Dress like the job you want to have.” The same could be said of your resume; research aspects of the job you’re applying to, and highlight what you’d be the best at in your cover letter & resume. It’s all in the phrasing, my friends. It’s a pain in the butt to edit for every job you’re applying to, but I promise you it will make a difference. Show them what you can do!
Utilize Your Resources
I was really fortunate in that I only had to spend 2-3 weeks seriously looking for a job, & I think a lot of it had to do with how I went about using resources available to me. LinkedIn really works. I couldn’t believe it, but it’s true. I immediately went in and updated my LinkedIn, and signed up for the 30-day FREE premium trial (Which is what helped me the most, I think!) With LinkedIn premium, your resume gets bumped to the top of the list that any employer can see, and LinkedIn will also give you percentages of how you compete with others–this is important too, because this actually helped my self confidence a LOT. You really are better than you think you are, and LinkedIn is there to remind you of that.
Placement agencies are also another good option. I met with a local company here, and they really helped me spruce up my resume. Also, despite the fact that they’ll get paid when you get hired–in my experience, they genuinely want to help.
You’re So Much Better Than You Think You Are
Congratulations if you’ve been reading along with me this whole time–this is the last part where I try to tie in the original message that got lost somewhere along the way. You really are better than you think you are. Really. Take time to do some self-reflection, and remember that you can do things just as much as anyone else can. You’re not unqualified. Try reaching for something that you want, and you’ll be surprised that you don’t fail as often as you think you will. It’s okay to have some confidence.
Remember that nice office job I was just talking about, with all the happy people in it? It took me three days to apply to it because I didn’t think I qualified for it–I didn’t have as much experience as they required, and there were 158 other applicants. I applied on a half-hearted whim so that I could tell myself that night, “at least I tried.”
Because I took that first step, because I tried, I got somewhere. Just know that you can, too.