I think I've mentioned in the past that I hate writing hard posts. Exposing yourself to others isn't so much fun, but yet I keep at this blog anyway. So let me make a feeble attempt to write about something that is hard for me:
Comparing myself to others.
Comparing yourself to others is like the self-esteem Kiss of Death, but wouldn't you agree that it's quite hard to resist? The worst past of this for me is that I know WAAAY too many professionally successful people. My friends and acquaintances make law firm partner at 30; testify before Congress; start successful businesses and non-profits; are neurosurgeons; call the President "Barack" and not while they are on the couch watching "60 Minutes;" and are overall bad asses. Yet, here I am barely able to figure out what to do next career-wise. Did I tell you that many of these people are my age or younger? Maybe I need to meet a whole new group of people. ;) To say that I feel a certain level of inadequacy when I think about some of these people is a little bit of an understatement.
By the way, I like to not think about this as jealousy. Jealousy to me suggests that I want what others have. I assure you that I don't want to be a law firm partner (ha!). Although testifying before Congress wouldn't be such a bad thing. :) But seriously, this is more my longing for wanting to feel like I am making a valuable contribution somewhere professionally and ('cause can I have an ego for a second? Thanks!) to get recognized for it in some small way. I don't think that's too much to ask, but perhaps it is. When I see these people, I don't want their jobs or success rather it makes me wonder: When is my time?
I wish I could tell you that I have some wonderful advice about how to combat this, but all I can do is just list for you what I try to remind myself. Usually my bouts of "You're sort of a loser, TSN" go away pretty instantly, but I like preventative mini-mantras like these:
1. There is always going to be someone out there better than you at something. In other words, be humble. There is always going to be someone you might think is more successful or better at something than you are. It doesn't mean that you're not amazing. You bring something totally different to the table.
2. Be thankful for what you do have. The grass is always greener; just be happy you even HAVE grass! I try to practice thankfulness, and some days I am better at it than others. I do recognize that having a professional path is NOT the only thing in life. Hello! I've got a great family, supportive, loving husband and seem to be going through a period of abundance in life right now (even without a job..go figure!). Allow me an indulgence and let me say that I feel blessed right now. I have no idea what else is going on in these power brokers lives, and it may not be much to speak of. If anything, what I have is pretty darn good if not ideal.
3. Tunnel vision ain't so bad, but don't let it hold you back. Keeping your focus on bettering yourself AND encouraging and supporting others is really the way to go. Whenever I can, I meet with, talk to or provide networking opportunities to anyone I can. I'm motivated by the belief that whatever energy you put out into the world will come back to you. Even if it doesn't directly, I think the person you helped will hopefully help someone else creating this lovely little web of good vibes. Sorry for the cheese factor, but I think you know what I mean. And, no, I've never seen "Pay it Forward." :)
Well this wasn't so bad. I hope you all don't think I am a complete knuckle head for writing this, but I'm sure that many of us think about this at some point in our journeys.
So am I just jealous, and I don't want to come clean with myself? What do you do make sure you don't compare yourself to others?
I'm just vloggin' to say hello. I'm not so chipper today, but I miss you all. Here's a vlog to let you know what's going on with me.
If you're having a bad week in your journey, I'm right there with you! It will all be okay. Do something therapeutic! However, if you are like me and use red velvet cake to soothe, make sure you do something healthy for yourself later. :)
One Sunday afternoon, Jim (my husband, not his real name) and I ended up watching "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "Kendra" on E. Personally, I am a fan of what I like to call "high end" reality TV: Top Chef, Amazing Race...you know, the good stuff. Kim Kardashian and her family and Kendra are not my usual TV fare, but their lives sucked me in for an entire afternoon that I will never get back.
The most interesting episode in our mini-marathon of "quality" reality TV was Kim K.'s trip to Vegas for "work", which consisted primarily of having her hair and makeup done professionally, then appearing at a nightclub speaking for a minute and a half, and partying. Then Kim left Vegas the next day and shot a Carl's Jr. commercial where she proceeded to eat junk food while looking sexy. Am I a tad jealous that this is her work life? Um, heck yeah! I loved how earnestly she yelled about needing to have a drama free environment in her hotel suite because she had to be prepared for "work." Mind you I am watching all of this after watching Kendra, yet another "celebrity" who I am barely familar with other than seeing her mug on newsstands. Both of these women got me thinking, "Why are you famous? Why??!!!" More importantly, these ladies made me think about the idea of personal branding.
While I don't really vibe on the whole celebrity thing I will say this: folks in the entertainment industry know how to hustle; and in the words of the ever-articulate Jay-Z, I can't knock their hustle. But seriously, actors, celebutantes, etc. can teach the rest of us a thing or two about handling our careers. They have found a way to package themselves and make themselves marketable to the point where their lives are broadcast to a nationwide for reasons unknown. Whatever career path we decide to follow, we really do need to have some form of personal branding. It doesn't need to take the form of a Carl's Jr. commercial and a reality TV show, but just like Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Kendra, we need to find ways to market ourselves as we make our way through our careers.
So what is this whole "personal branding" concept? At this point, based on what I've observed, it seems to me that personal branding is being able to articulate and cohesively sell "You" based on combination of your interests and skills. The central question for figuring out your personal brand is: What skills do I bring to the table in a certain topic area or interest category? Are you a great sports writer? Do you love Japanes origami projects and could easily plan a mass folding party? Do you have extensive knowledge of Zulu basketweaving and can speak to large groups about this topic (By the way, I have some fabulous Zulu baskets in my apartment. Love them!)?
Since this is my second go around at career change (we'll sort of), I've had to think about who I am in the work world a few times. I do have a sense of what my skills are. It's the whole interests part that gets me. I've got too many interests! Travel, food, overall lifestyle stuff, sports! Plus I've got this blog! Ack!
One thing I am more confident about is what skills I bring to the table. You should be too. If you're walking down the street or stopped a stoplight for those of you who drive everywhere, and someone asked you what you do well, would you be able to tell them? If you're wondering what your skills are, a very, very simple exercise is to think about past activities you've participated in including when you were a child (those are actually sometimes the most authentic in my book because as kids we're the most free and exploratory. We hold nothing back. Wouldn't that be cool now?). What did you enjoy about those activities? What skills were you using? Singing? Organzing and planning? Analyzing complex issues? Figuring out puzzles? Don't censor yourself either! Everything counts.
Don't worry I might do this little exercise too, even though the idea of it doesn't necessarily sound fun. Is it okay that I like to give advice more than take it? :) I am still learning much of this myself, and personal branding is so much more than what I have said here. It's such a foreign concept to me, and even I wonder if there is application to every career (people who swear by it say so).