Mentorship June 21, 2017
It gave me the push I needed to reinvent myself.
Some would agree that setbacks are the tiny bumps in the road that set you up for your comeback.
At least that’s what I would like to believe. In my twenties, I experienced three layoffs. One of them was a project I knew would end, and the other two were companies that went through financial hardship. With that experience, there was an overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to do next in my career.
The beauty in those setbacks is that it reminds you to revert to your list of goals and draw a plan for your next move. And so I did.
My first layoff forced me to go back to school and pursue my undergraduate degree, which is the best thing that I could have done for myself.
There were moments of insecurity, frustration, excitement and determination, all at the same time. Most girls my age were finishing college and here I was just getting started at the age of 26.
Nonetheless, I buckled up and took it head on. I was hopeful, and I knew it was going to be a long road ahead of me. There were going to be a lot of sacrifices, and that meant less time with friends and more time studying. Deep inside, I was dealing with being insecure about not having a college education and I was internalizing those feelings on my own.
While I was going to school, I took jobs that I thought I liked doing and at the moment, I’m sure I did. Then a few months into these jobs, I was uninspired and felt stuck.
There’s nothing more detrimental to your growth than to keep doing things that make you question your worth and capability. Some would argue that you have to make a few bad choices before you get it right, and I can only agree.
There were plenty of moments where I dreaded jumping on the phone and interviewing candidates, which was only unfair to them. My office was all the way towards the back, completely on my own little island. I was stuck back there for nine hours, alone, unless I had to step out for water or a bathroom break. The building had no windows, and nowhere to go to get food — well, at least not within walking distance.
I was forced to eat at my desk every day. The area was very industrial, and filled with big rigs. My days grew longer by the minute, and I felt that I could have passed out and no one would have even noticed. My officemate was nice and chatty, so when she wasn’t in the office it was just me in that dark hole. When your work environment is dull, it’s just a matter of time before your attitude reflects that.
I knew in my heart that I wanted to do something more. I kept thinking about my future self in 10 years, and I knew that I did not want to interview people for the rest of my life. I wanted to make an impact, and I wanted to learn something more strategic and creative.
And I know I’m capable of it, I just needed to be given the opportunity to learn a new skill set. The beauty in my set back after getting laid off from my third job was that it forced me to realize that I needed to pursue a career in a field that inspired me. When you do something you love, waking up in the morning isn’t as dreadful.
So, I stopped applying to jobs that were only going to land me in the same position. There was no point in doing that if it wasn’t in line with my education and career goals. One thing that I learned the most in these past 10 years is that time is the most valuable thing. It’s something you can’t get back, and while I never like to set a time limit for myself, it’s important to make time for things that are going to leave an impact in your life; personally and professionally.
This experience allowed me to gain a better perspective on what I truly want in life. I also realized that I need to be humble and do what is necessary to gain experience, and that is starting from the bottom, learning new skills and being okay with starting over. I’ll get there on my own time.
So here I am at thirty years old, trying to reinvent myself and finish my last year in college. These experiences have taught me to be comfortable with my setbacks and see the beauty in them, ultimately having faith that the comeback will be much sweeter.
Nothing comes easy without hard work and a lot of sacrifices, such as missing out on long nights of partying and hanging out with friends. I’ve also had to cut back on my expenses and turn down great opportunities for work.
Some weekends are spent on writing papers, and watching TV is a leisure during the week. Happy hours are unheard of, because I’ve chosen to maximize my time to build a career. I’m sure my friends have grown tired of hearing me say, “I can’t go out, I have a paper to write,” and trust me, as committed as I am, I am also tired.
But still, the beauty in overcoming these setbacks is that they are now part of your journey, and my best advice for someone trying to figure it out is to embrace and accept them because they are molding you into who you’re meant to be.
As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. These sacrifices build character. Take advantage of your opportunities. One closed door will only lead to many more open doors. Enjoy what you do, day in and day out.
Believe that even though you were not dealt the best cards, it’s up to you to make the best of it. Your future self is depending on you.
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