I have a funny relationship with external validation. I crave it more than anything else. It gives me the most delightful warm glow in my belly. But I also feel intensely…uncomfortable receiving it?
Sometimes you need others to believe in you before you can believe in yourself. You can borrow their convictions and try them on for size until you get comfortable in them.
I’m now 33 (what a cool number) and only now do I REALLY feel like I’m starting to come into my own. And I’ve been reflecting on the most important relationship in my life. It’s not with my son or his dad or any of my family. It’s not even with another living creature.
It’s with my work and career
I’ve gained so much through my work that I can’t possibly begin to quantify or articulate it all.
Through work, I have had people advocate for me. Observe my contribution when I couldn’t see it. “They’d have been screwed without you.” “You handled that really diplomatically.” (On one occasion, this led to me saying semi-jokingly, “Send all the angry men my way.”)
I’ve been told I have a really interesting way of thinking. That nobody else in their interviews said what I did. I’ve been told by a leader, “I always value/appreciate our chats.” I’ve been dubbed the “silent assassin”.
I’ve been a second choice for a job, but been told it turned out for the best 🙂 As a junior on a project, I’ve caught and raised major red flags early on that nobody else spotted.
Being pushed to create and deliver presentations for teams forced me to reflect on industry shifts, see trends, and synthesise my thoughts. To think critically and originally, drawing my own conclusions.
Through writing and the power of words I’ve been able to fund my dreams, connect with others, learn about countless industries and topics, heal, and grow. I’ve received an education in coaching and personal development by proxy, just through editing books.
I learned to trust my instincts and how to approach tough situations with tact. When I became the target of a toxic leader, who picked on me in meetings publicly, I didn’t take it personally.
Through work I learned how I should and shouldn’t let people in my personal life treat me. I’ve learned so much through the interpersonal aspects of professional life that I now bring into the rest of my life.
When all else fails, work was an escape and a break. There, I was competent and confident.
I will have this always. When my son is grown, I will have all the gifts my work has given me, on top of financially supporting my lifestyle, and I know that I will continue to find joy and satisfaction in for years to come.