I recently had one of those come to [INSERT RELIGIOUS BELIEF PERSON HERE] moments about how I perceive my career. I have been working for what seems like forever, but what really is just a little more than 3.5 years. During that time I have held jobs at two VERY different agencies. So far, I have learned a lot about the industry and working with clients (still lots more to learn). I have also learned that as much as I try to fight it, I am a freaking hard on myself.
I don’t know if I chose to benchmark myself against people who were the exception and not the norm, but I decided that I needed to reach certain points in the road on this ridiculous schedule. Let me be clear, I am not sitting at my desk every day with the “pathways to growth” booklet open and placing a check mark next to a skill if I have completed it.
I am just saying that I set these expectations for myself and when I don’t reach them in the timely manner that I feel I should be—I spiral and I spiral hard. My perception of my skill set is completely morphed. I focus on the fact that I forgot to do something for one client. I notice that for whatever reason developing a budget is still a foreign concept that can take me hours and it still won’t be right. I look at the fact that there are times when I probably look and sound like I want to slap the person giving me feedback. (I once got a review that said I considered myself a creative and that creatives don’t receive feedback well. I have NO IDEA what that meant.)
I DON’T focus on the fact that my bosses think I am a strong presenter, that I handle clients relatively well and can look a “social media” specialist across the table and go toe-to-toe on a strategy. (At least that’s what I heard in my most recent review.)
So why is it that my “self-awareness” stops at my faults and doesn’t include my strengths? Maybe it’s because after a brainstorm I once overheard a VP talking about how I shouldn’t have even spoken up because I was an intern (it was said with such disdain) and I didn’t know anything. Perhaps it’s my own insecurities of not wanting to sound arrogant (because man do I hate arrogance).
At any rate, I need to learn to be my own advocate. I have to reevaluate whatever these goals I have for myself and somehow stop comparing myself to others around me. I can’t lose sight of some of the things I need to work on (I am looking at you budgets and attitudinal Laney), but I also need to pat myself on the back every now and then when I do something great.