Monday, January 27, 2014

Learning how to work hard

Something I've struggled with for a while is my complete lack of self-confidence. It always comes up in our "insecurities" video for VEDA and how I word it is that I lost the ability to believe in myself. As I've started (again) on my job searching path, I have started to unravel this issue.

Every time I get ready to start looking and applying for jobs, I am overcome with a feeling of inadequacy and hopelessness. Usually I cannot bring myself to even get started. Sometimes I find jobs worth applying for, open them all up in tabs, and then everything comes to a screeching halt. Either I dismiss all of them (I'm missing one of the "key" qualifications, it's a little too far away from home, I don't feel it would be a good fit) or I tell myself I'll apply to them "tomorrow."


That's the question I've tried to answer every time I go through this. At first I thought it was because I'm climbing an uphill battle - none of the big companies want me because nothing stands out about me, I don't have enough experience to do anything other than what I'm now, so I'm going to end up making a tiny bit more money and be stuck in the same limiting situation.

Then I realized something else: I've never worked hard at anything (worthwhile) in my life.

When I was in school (the only real experience I have with opportunities to work hard), I coasted. Through high school, I barely touched a book or took any notes. I was fortunate enough (or so I thought) to be smart enough that I absorbed the material in class and in the last-minute crunch sessions of my friends. In college, I didn't manage to do as well as high school, but I still made it through with limited effort.

Because I never had to work hard, I never learned how.

Now, I realize how privileged this sounds. I'm complaining, essentially, about how I'm too smart and had too many opportunities. There are people who have to work their asses off for what I have, or people who work that hard and still don't have what I have. It made me feel a little sick to realize it.

That's not to say I haven't worked hard on other things. I spent hours upon hours (upon hours) perfecting activities and projects for our Residence Hall Association in college. (Which I do realize screams really loudly that I should be doing something creative, and I'm working on it.) I've put in a lot of work on myself emotionally with my anxiety and health issues. I do the work in relationships.

Still, those things do not get me a new job. The problem, it seems, is that I want a job to fall into my lap. I want job searching to be easy. And it's not.

Now that I've realized this, I have to use it to motivate myself. It's incredibly freeing, in a way, because my "I'm a failure" internal monologue no longer rings true. If I've never really tried, I've never really failed. How can I fail when I don't do the work, when luck and good fortune have been the driving forces in my life thus far? Even my current job was something I stumbled into with the least amount of effort - I applied and got lucky that it was a small company desperate for anyone to fill the position.

My mediocre-so-far life is a result of not doing much; imagine what I could do if I tried.