The following is a sequence of events from June 28th, 2016: 7 AM
It was a Tuesday morning. I got to work an hour before everyone else, as I always do, and found a meeting had been put on my calendar: an hour long touch-base with my boss. In typical fashion, I panicked. What had I done wrong? Did I mess something up? Was I going to get fired? Then I took a step back and thought about it. I had just been given a lot more responsibility (all at once with no warning) because the position above me had quit a few weeks prior. I was still getting my footing and making a few small mistakes. Each of which I recognized immediately, owned up to, and figured out how to do better. As I walked to the conference room with my boss we sit down and she folds her hands on the table. I open my notebook trying to stay positive and peppy. I have been working under this boss for 2 months and still trying to get a handle on her management style. We had long talk about my responsibilities and these little mistakes I was making. In the heat of her rant (which felt like a bullet point presentation on why I sucked) she uttered a phrase that made my stomach drop: “I don’t know if you’re right for this job. I mean do you even like it?” My immediate reaction was to say yes, I am so sorry it’s taking me longer than desired to acclimate. I was hurt, frustrated, and confused. I had been at the company for a year, I had never been in trouble, I get to work an hour before I need to, I stay late, I do everything with a smile, I try to go above and beyond my responsibilities, and I strive to remain calm even when I am extremely overwhelmed.
That night when I got home, I did what I do when I feel bad, sad, overwhelmed, confused, or just plain weird: I talked to my roommate Julia. She listened to my rant about how hurt I was that my boss didn’t think I was right for the job. She then offered some amazing insight: “What if you aren’t right for the job and it’s holding back your creativity and what you want out of a career? What if your boss was just being honest and not trying to hurt your feelings?” I hadn’t thought of it like that. The wise 3rd grade teacher Julia continued: “your current job is just a job; don’t stress about not having your perfect career now. You can take this opportunity to find out what you really want in your career.” I thought, well dang that’s a great way to look at it. That weekend I had a similar conversation with my dad, who agreed that while the message was not delivered in the most professional or appropriate way, maybe I was not right for that specific role. I finally realized it was true. Over the last year, I had more anxiety than I ever have before. I was so caught up in trying to force myself to like the work that I lost sight of what I am truly interested in. My dad urged me to do that I do what I do best, make a list, and write out all the things I am looking for in a job, research job descriptions to see what positions fulfill my hopes in a career, and contact everyone possible to get insight, advice, and help.
It turns out that the poor delivery of a true message was exactly what I needed to remind myself that it’s my career—not anyone else’s. It’s up to me to put in the effort and figure out what I want. It’s my responsibility. I owe it to myself and my wellbeing to seek out what truly makes me happy. That said, I do not recommend quitting your job at the first inkling of dislike. You also owe it to yourself to stick it out and learn why you don’t like something. I spent a year at this job trying to convince myself it was the career path best for me. I learned, worked hard and now it’s time to move. Now I embark on a journey to find my true passion, to connect with strong women in their fields to get advice, and to follow my dreams. It’s a scary thing not knowing what’s next, but it’s a brave thing to make that jump. Follow your heart, learn from your mistakes, and work your butt off. In the words of Michael Chabon, “do what you gotta do and stay fly.”