I wanted to start an “advice column,” of sorts, and this was my first question:
Dear Brandon, How do you find your strengths, gifts, purpose, etc.—especially professionally—when most of your jobs have nothing to do with your degree and you’re losing confidence in yourself? How do you keep the imposter syndrome and doubts from nagging at your soul?
My Degree was a Waste of Time!
I changed my major several times in college and ended up with a Bachelor of Science in psychology (and a minor in music) with the intention of going further–getting my master’s, possibly PhD, etc. This did not happen. I am not currently using my degree in a professional sense. I add that caveat because I do use the knowledge and principles I learned during my courses all the time, especially in my writing. I believe I am better able to get inside the heads of my characters and empathize with individuals with whom I would normally have nothing in common.
My minor in music has helped me become a better pianist and have a broader, deeper appreciation for different types of music and musicians. Ryan Tedder, lead singer for OneRepublic, is a very talented musician and songwriter, writing and producing songs not only for his own band, but artists including including Adele, Beyoncé, Leona Lewis, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Jonas Brothers, Jennifer Lopez, Camila Cabello, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, MØ, One Direction, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Logic, Paul McCartney, Blackpink, Twice and Anitta. Justin Bieber (wait, don’t cringe just yet) was an immature little twerp sometimes, but looking at his abilities objectively, he has an extremely gifted and natural singing ability. I do not regularly listen to all of these artists, but after studying music theory and analyzing pieces, I have attained an appreciation for musical talent.
Furthermore, I believe that education is never a waste of time. To learn something–whatever it may be–makes a person a more well-rounded individual and opens thier mind to more possibilities and exploration of the world around them. I don’t believe the person who wrote this question to me was implying that their education was a waste, but they feel frustrated that they spent all this time thinking that a pursuit in a degree would help them get a job. I completely understand that frustration and I believe it happens with a great many people.
For those of you who can empathize with this frustration, try to look at your education in a more positive light. Think of the ways your degree(s) can be used in your life without necessarily focusing on utilizing it in order to make money.
More and more it seems that companies are looking for individuals with experience over education. I’ve looked at so many job postings that say they want someone with experience, but very few that are willing to give someone experience. And there’s the rub: How do you get experience if no one is willing to give it to you?
One job posting was more honest than the others and said something to the affect that:
No one has all the qualifications for a particular job, so even if you aren’t completely qualified, apply anyway.
It kind of blew me away. I looked at so many postings that listed “requirements” that I didn’t have, so I immediately discarded them. After reading from that one company that I should apply anyway, I transferred that notion to other job applications. I’m not saying you should lie on your application–not at all. Whenever they ask about specific qualifications or experience, be honest and tell them about whatever experience you do have that might apply to their company. Tell them how much you would enjoy working for them and that you are willing to be trained or learn whatever skills are necessary.
If you are losing confidence in yourself because you’re not being hired or people are not seeing your potential, then your confidence is based on others’ perceptions. Do you see what I mean? You must learn and get to know yourself. Know what you are good at and also what your limitations are (and most of those are self-imposed). Try not to base your self-confidence or self-worth on other people’s opinions.
I know that I’m a good writer and I hate saying that more than you may hate reading it. I am not an arrogant person, but I am proud of my writing, my poems, stories, and articles; otherwise, I wouldn’t publish them on this blog. I have also written some crap, but you will never see it, because I won’t post it. 🙂
Publishers and companies looking for experienced writers don’t want to hire me because I don’t have “proof” that people like my writing. What did I do about it? I started a blog and grew my audience to more than 500 followers. I started another one on Medium recently and in just over a month, I have over 100 followers. This did not happen by accident or by merely posting stories and sitting back to wait for people to follow me.
Put in the Work
How did I do it? I engaged with other writers. I read SO MANY blog posts, stories, poems, commented, “liked,” “clapped” and followed other bloggers. This took a lot of time to do. I also had to read a lot of complete nonsense! I didn’t like many of the posts that I read, so I didn’t engage with those particular writers. I was never fake, and only followed blogs that I was interested in.
My point is…sometimes you have to put in a lot of work to “prove” yourself in order to get that job, to advance yourself in your career. You may have to work for yourself for a while and do some “freelance” work. I know this is difficult too–building up clientele without a proven record–so you may have to take a less desirable job with possibly less pay or benefits until you are able to build your chosen career.
At the end of the day,
- Realize that your education is playing a role in your life and try to recognize it.
- Don’t let anyone else determine your self-worth
- Put in some extra work to get to where you want to be
- You may have to take a job that you don’t like in order to do what you’re passionate about.
Thanks for reading! I hope this has been helpful. If you have an issue or question you would like me to address, please leave a comment or email me through my contact page to remain anonymous. I will do my best to address it in an objective manner.
*This article is my own personal advice and is not meant to be taken in place of a mental health professional.
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