A big shoutout to Fran Meneses, a constant source of inspiration and pep talks, and the illustrator of this and many more amazing pieces.
Do you ever have those days where you’re standing in the stairwell — rolling a labeling sticker over your black, cat hair-covered sweater — and thinking, why is everyone so much better at adulting than me?
Last week, one of my coworkers gave an amazing presentation on ASMR. If I could have, I would have given her a raise right on the spot. Her slides were organized, her speech was articulate, and her data was levels beyond what I’m capable of doing. In essence, she inspired and intimidated me all at the same time and just like every normal 27-year-old, I left that meeting a bundle of self-reflective nerves.
I could hear my insecurities ringing the doorbell of my consciousness. You could never do anything like that, they whispered, unpacking their overstuffed baggage. Sometimes you’re not even sure what your job is, or how to pull data, or which questions are the right ones to ask. Sometimes people don’t even know what your new job is! Your coworkers are so much more capable than you. What are YOU bringing to the team?
But unlike when I was 25, I’ve now learned how to answer these Insecurity house calls with a swift, “PISS OFF!” Rooted deep in those mean voices is the truth that I’m simply a little insecure or doubtful about aspects of myself. There is this common misconception that there are only so many seats at the successful table. Social media makes us feel like if we haven’t been published in the New Yorker, named on a Forbes 30 list, or started a non-profit, we’re pretty much shit and should just give up now. The boat sailed, you weren’t on it, SORRY!
This feeling makes us unnecessary competitive, instead collaborative, and unintentionally makes us lock arms and defend our seats like a professional game of musical chairs.
But the truth is, if there was only a finite amount of success available, it would have run out a looooonnnnngggggg time ago. Far before any of us hit the scene.
So lets all stop pretending that when someone we love or admire does something amazing it means we can’t do something amazing as well. Yes, my coworker’s presentation reminded me of how much I have to learn, but walking away from that solely focused on myself would be doing her (and me) a disservice. It would be keeping things how they are for the sheer fact that I was selfishly nervous I couldn’t keep up with my team’s growing capabilities. Over the last eight months in my new role, my growth has been messy and hard and humbling. But it was worth it.
Now, being lucky enough to be surrounded by people who inspire me to grow, who are willing to sit down and answer my questions despite working long hours, that’s something I’m embracing with both hands.
So to all of you who receive house calls from your Insecurities, you’re not alone. Ask for help, talk to people who intimidate you. Chances are, they are simply trying to figure things out too. But most of all, remember that your peers are not you, you are not your peers, and at the end of the day we’re all just trying to get cat hair off our clothes.