Fear can have a tremendous hold over us if we let it. I have let it stop me from things like going on dates, cutting my hair and, most importantly, from applying to certain jobs. I’ve been experiencing a lot of fear and anxiety over job searching lately, and the funny part is that I haven’t even really started looking for positions in earnest yet.
Part of the problem goes back to comparing myself to others, and another equally important issue I suffer from, which is letting other peoples’ opinions of me define who I am. Both habits I am trying (really hard!) to break. I heard a lot of people growing up describe me as shy, so naturally I started thinking I was a shy person, and I acted that way. Never mind that I had never asked myself, “are you shy?” Thankfully, I’ve since realized that I’m actually quite adept at interacting with people, I’m just an introvert who needs time to myself to recharge.
I still catch myself being held back by fear of who other people think I am with what seem like such trivial things. Instagram is a great example. Before I post something, I always end up thinking, “what will people think of me when they see this?” or, “does this look like I’m trying too hard?” It’s as if I’m trying to make sure whatever I post fits a mold all these (nonexistent) people created for me. It’s some weird, subconscious rule I made up and convinced myself I have to abide by. And it’s dumb!
While that type of thinking may not matter too much on Instagram because I usually get over myself and my over-analysis and just post the picture, it matters a whole lot more when it comes to applying for jobs. During our senior year of college, I was sitting with a couple friends and we were talking about job searching. One of them asked us if we knew that women were far less likely than men to apply for a job that they were not 100% qualified for. I had never really thought about that before, and it stayed with me.
I have gotten into a rut of disqualifying myself from even applying to certain jobs because I don’t meet the requirements. Why wouldn’t I let the people who actually work at the company decide whether or not I’m qualified? When I type that question out I’m shouting “DUH!” in my head, but for some reason that clarity tends to melt away when you’re reading that the company would like someone with four years of experience, and you’ve been out of college for one.
But it’s not my job to decide whether or not I would do a good job at their company, it’s my job to convince them I would. That requires believing in myself, so all that negative thinking, all the “well I don’t meet that” or “I don’t have experience with that” is not helping anyone. Not the company and not me. Instead of thinking about what I’m not, I have to start thinking about what I am and the things that I know I can and will do well. I’m hoping that if I’m passionate enough about getting the job, that will shine through.
Another important habit to break is being surprised when you get a job. I was shocked when I got my internship in New York during college, even more so when I found out that I had been picked from hundreds of candidates. Stop being surprised. Be happy, be proud, and instead of saying, “wow I can’t believe I got that” say “I worked really hard for that and the employer realized I am the best person for that job.” It should be a “hell yeah!” moment instead of an “oh my god, really, me??” one.
Enough already. Be confident and be bold and you’ll attract far more of what you want into your life. I believe that.
And now I’m off to scout more jobs that I will apply for, even if I’m only 60% qualified. After all, what do you have to lose?
p.s. What do you do when you need to feel more confident in yourself?