If you’ve been following my blog, you might be aware that I’m not currently in employment, having taken a career break at the beginning of 2017. I’m certainly glad I did. But that means that I am currently unemployed. Gosh, that brings up all sorts of connotations, and feels difficult just writing that statement down. However, that’s the truth, whether I like it or not.
I haven’t worked for an employer for almost 3 years (you can read about my quitting my job here), and let’s just say the whole ‘work’ thing has been a pain point for a while. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and I’ve often feared that I would never find “it” – or, at least, something I’m content with (I believe that there’s not just one thing that we’re necessarily made to do, but rather a number of things we have the potential to thrive in #multipotentialite).
Back to the title of this post, in the last month I’ve been focusing on a new field – publishing – and have now started to apply for various jobs/placements/schemes (full disclosure: at time of writing, I was looking more at content-/journalist-type roles, before I started exploring the world of publishing). And, boy, do I feel like I’m winging it sometimes. I honestly feel that getting out of the house to go to the gym everyday is keeping me sane, or at least level. The sustained endorphin rush helps with both my mood and confidence, I feel.
Even though I’ve been blogging in various places for almost 3 years (scary), I took a year out last year where it was really for self-care, re-energising, and chilling the f*ck out. Mental health is key. I did, incidentally, continue to blog and build my writing portfolio – just doing what I enjoyed – and, as it turns out, that has turned out to be “useful” now for my CV/profile.
As I have done different things in my life – from when I was a tennis coach during school holidays when I was 16/17, through to tutoring, working in recruitment, doing a Masters, starting an education programme – I have felt like a fraud, an imposter. It feels like a constant sense of re-inventing myself, of wearing a new coat and trying to become this new thing, adopt this new identity. When people ask “what do you do?” after all, they’re really asking “Who are you?”. As well as wanting to know how much you’re making and whether they’re doing better than you, of course (just kidding, but not really – 10-year school re-unions, anyone?!).
In case you haven’t heard of it, imposter syndrome is a real thing, experience by everyone – in my experience, introverted, creative types are a sucker for it.
I’m having to brag about what I’ve done, come across a super-keen and self-assured (to be fair, I’m being pretty picky right now and – at time of publishing – after much info-gathering, and speaking to people, I’ve now honed in on where I want to be). Put my best foot forward, as they say. Whilst showing-off doesn’t come naturally, I’m also having to convey great enthusiasm and an element of “yeah – this is totally the thing I wanna do” (again – at time of publishing – I’m feeling much more comfortable with this). Really, I won’t know for sure until I’m doing said job and experiencing it for myself.
That said, it’s helpful to know the key ingredients, which for a long time for me are ideally in a small team where I can learn, with a company whose culture and values align. But beyond that (time of writing), it feels like I’m taking a few shots in the dark and seeing what lands (at time of publishing – I still am, to be fair – everyone in publishing says it’s a mix of perseverance and luck when it comes to landing your first job).
Also, as I’m applying for junior/entry-level/intern roles, I know I’ll have to get past the whole “Aren’t you too old/over-qualified for this”-type question. Which is fine, but I know I’ll have to feign confidence and coming across that that particular job/company is exactly what I wanna do and where I wanna work and all other jobs and companies are baaaaad. An exaggeration, but you get my point.
And then there’s actually getting the interview, getting past the interview, and then the next interview, and then accepting the offer, and then finally actually starting the job! Phew.
But then a whole new bunch of questions surface… am I capable? Will I like it? Will I suck at it? The questions I’d have anyway, but are amplified by the fact that I’ve had a break from work, and that this is a new industry, and new territory. Perhaps the biggest downside to not having a workspace to go to is that you’re left to your own thoughts, criticism and paranoia all of the time. It doesn’t surprise me that co-working spaces are cropping up everywhere at the moment, for those who don’t have ‘typical’ jobs – i.e. freelancers, creative, creative freelancers, freelancing creatives, etc.
That whole “fake it ‘till you make it” thing has never worked for me. If I’m not wearing the coat, haven’t got used to it, and it doesn’t feel like it fits, I struggle with putting on the facade.
Let’s just hope this one fits. Thankfully, it’s been feeling more snug of late.
✏ Written: Tuesday, 6th March 2018 @ 8.49pm
What about you? 🤷🏽♂️
Do you ever feel like you’re “faking it” or are “gonna be found out” in your work – or even when it comes to your life? As always I’d *love* to get hear your experiences with the whole imposter-syndrome-thing 💙