Fake It 'Til You Become It
“What are the most significant challenges or obstacles you have faced during training?”
My supervisor asked me this question during the seventh and last week of the training process for my very first job. Was it running on no sleep? Brain overload? Being away from my friends and support system?
“A lack of confidence.”
After rocking the three-step interview process and feeling truly called to this position, I never imagined I would struggle with confidence throughout the training process.
I was a pretty confident woman in college. I understood my strengths and I used them to accomplish some impressive things. I worked hard to build a resume with eight internships, planned a few big events and received some of the top honors. I was a force to be reckoned with.
So what changed?
To state it simply, I started working with 14 other equally successful women and comparison crept its way into my brain. When I walked into the training room and recognized I was surrounded by this group of remarkable women, I felt defeated and competitive. As an advocate for women supporting women, I found it hard to comprehend these feelings. This wasn’t like me.
Throughout training, I was instinctively aware of my coworkers’ performance. I began directly comparing my experiences and knowledge to theirs. I was highly critical of my own work and disappointed in myself when I did not do my best. Instead of challenging myself to work harder, I allowed myself to get sucked into a downward spiral.
During that same last week of training, I completed the StrengthsFinder assessment and discovered that one of my top five strengths is competition. I realized the moments of comparison I experienced in training were actually driving me to work harder. For starters, I read over manuals and reports each night to prepare for the following day of training.
This situation reminds me of this saying: “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” I have always surrounded myself with people who challenge me, but I did not understand why until my supervisor asked me that question. My coworkers challenge me to be my best self, which in turn allows me to grow personally and professionally.
Competition may not be one of your top five strengths, but we all experience those moments of comparison and uncertainty. Whether it’s in your first job or your first year in graduate school, I encourage you to use those moments as motivation. Sometimes you just have to fake it ‘til you make it. This is easier said than done, but I believe in you.