“Whenever you find yourself on the side of majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain
I started today’s post with this quote because I think it best sums up the lesson I am trying to convey in this post. I am the poster-child for comparing myself to others, you know, that thing that everyone tells you NOT to do? Yea, I’ve basically got a Ph.D. in that. I mean, its easy, right? Its so easy to scroll on Instagram or Facebook or even worse, LinkedIn, and see so many people succeeding and doing things. I see people moving to big cities and starting their dream job at 23. I see people getting positions with Forbes 500 companies and getting full-time offers from their internships and paying for glorious trips to Europe (before this month, of course).
While I scroll these posts, I sit on my couch in my house in Washington (or in Connecticut, currently), waiting for a call back from yet another job application or phone interview. The phone rings, they’ve decided to go another direction. My email dings.
“Thank you for your application. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot offer you a position. Please feel free to monitor our job board for other positions to be considered for.”
Along with my Ph.D. in comparing myself to others, I’m also getting really good at reading rejection emails. As the year started, I put on the face of positivity. I didn’t tell anyone how much trouble I was having trying to find a job, I refused to ask for help and I most certainly refused to admit to myself that I was having a hard time. I went through applications, I smiled in interviews and casual conversations and I repeated positive mantras to myself over and over.
Until one day, the facade cracked.
I realized I am not like everyone else. I compare myself and I so desperately try to portray my life just like others – for what? I couldn’t answer that. When I came home a few weeks ago, actually for a job interview in New York, lo and behold one that would be postponed due to this virus and leave me unable to go back to D.C. with shutdowns, I think I cracked. I realized, oh my gosh, I have nothing going for me, and I can’t even pretend anymore. I can’t keep acting like things are fine, because I have no job to occupy my days. And it bothered me, and I finally admitted it.
So I sucked up my ego and removed myself from the majority. I admitted to myself and others that yes, I am actually having a really difficult time and yes, I would like help trying to find a job and maximize my talents. And wouldn’t you know, no lightning bolt came down to strike me for being such a failure. No one laughed (as far as I know, I mean, never say never) and made me feel bad about myself. People actually reached out and said, “You should look here,” or “You should talk to so-and-so,” and offered real advice.
Isn’t the human race shocking sometimes?
I mean, really, I was so afraid to remove myself from this perfect, ideal image I thought I was supposed to live up to. I was so concerned about what other people would think that I quite literally drove myself crazy. But once I took a step back, as cheesy as it sounds, and reflected on myself and what I really wanted, what got me out of bed in the morning and what the Megan a year ago would have said she wanted, my perspective changed. I took people’s advice, I focused on applications, I kept my head down. And things finally started to work out.
I realized that I was so concerned with impressing other people that I never stopped to think about what I really want to do. Why did I move to D.C.? Well, school mainly. But I wanted to take a chance. I finally got a job that I started last week and I am so happy (and incredibly lucky!). It’s so exciting and brand new and I feel like I’m learning so much. It’s amazing what happens when you do ask for help and when you stop comparing yourself or trying to be like other people. When you step away from the majority and reflect, good things happen.
With the extra time we have, I challenge you to step to the opposite side of the majority and reflect yourself a little bit. There’s always a silver lining, and although many days it is so hard to find the silver lining here, there’s always something. The silver lining now is the time that we’ve always asked for but never had. This is the time to try, or reflect, or meditate, or figure out what makes you happy (spoiler alert, it turns out I AM addicted to SoulCycle). Use this time of solidarity to maximize yourself. It doesn’t have to be every day, or all day, but set some time aside for yourself. It’ll help, and it makes this quarantine a bit more bearable. And maybe, you’ll take a leap of faith, no pressure.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay happy!