I'm not where I am supposed to be

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m not where I’m supposed to be.”? I have. I can tell you it can sometimes feel as if the walls are closing in and time is running out. In the past, my biggest problem in these situations is that I didn’t know how to get where I wanted to go – mainly because I don’t always know where to go. In the past, this has led me to feel like I was stuck in a position with little perspective on how to move up in my career, while I simultaneously recognized that I didn’t want to move to any other position within the organization. I thought it was a phase at first, that I might wake up one day and no longer feel this way. But that phase turned into months, turned into a year, you get the picture. For awhile I felt trapped, as if my only option to stay put, which was a suffocating experience. I’m not going to tell you that I resolved all these anxious feelings in one sitting or that it even happened within weeks. It took time and a strong push from friends/family to overcome the mental hurdle that I am capable of more. But I will talk to you about what worked for me.

In order for my brain to be able to devise a solution for the ginormous monster of a problem in my head, I had to break it down into many little monsters. I started by first making a list of the things I both loved and despised about my role at the time. This helped me understand what I did and did not want to see in a future role. I had a few years of experience at that point and saw aspects of other roles that I thought I might enjoy, so I included those in a separate list. At the time, I was also fortunate enough that my company was sending me to Project Management courses at a local university - classes that helped me grow a as businesswoman, but also ones that I thoroughly enjoyed taking. Despite my mental struggles, I was thankful for the opportunity to grow in other ways and develop new talents.

As I went through this process, one of the topics that kept ringing throughout my ears was that my successes were limited because I did not have the proper degree to back me up, meaning people wouldn’t hire me for certain positions until I showed them I had the proper training/degree. As I continued to apply for different positions that interested me within the job market, I explored other avenues that could also help lead me to success. I had always wanted to go back to school to get my master’s degree, so I used the opportunity to begin researching schools and different degree programs that would allow me to combine my avocation with my vocation. As I toyed with the idea of going back to school, I began to study for the GRE and slowly narrowed down my choices for schools to apply to... Just in case I decided to pull the trigger and go back to school ;)

I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going back to school because I don’t know what industry or job title to apply for.”. It was simply this idea that I couldn't get out of my head and I knew I needed to at least explore the option. It was a year-long process of me agonizing over what to do, trying to explore different avenues that could set me on a path to success. One thing I will tell you is that: after every new job interview, I always had a crumbling feeling in my stomach that this wasn’t supposed to be my next step. Every time I completed an MBA program interview, I felt like I could take on the world. I will always tell you to listen to your gut, so you will understand that these feelings helped guide my decision of what next career move to make.

I often wonder what my purpose here is on this earth, maybe sometimes you do the same. It’s not a "sad" wonder, but rather a “am I bringing as much value as possible to this world?” wonder. I find that when I write things down on paper and can physically see them, then I am acknowledging where my biggest struggles are – usually it smacks me in the face as quickly as it hits the paper. This is why I love checklists or Pros/Cons lists. It forces you to be honest with yourself and helps define the areas of life that you need to change in order to rid yourself of these negative feelings. It also helps to have individuals in your life that are unabashedly honest with you. Why? Their honesty, though sometimes tough to hear, can help you better understand how people see you and identify areas in which you need to grow. The combination of all these things comprise the building blocks that you need in order to develop the detour that will take you to your new life roadmap.

At the end of the day, it is you that needs to change your life if you feel this way. You need to take the first step. But do not ever hesitate to use your resources, which can include speaking to people you know in industries you are applying for, reaching out to your mentor to help guide the decision, or asking your friends for raw advice. I believe each person has been put in your life for a reason, don't hesitate to figure out what that reason is (even if, in the moment, it means that they are helping you make a better life decision). What appears to be a monster problem for you could be an easy task for someone else and you won't know unless you ask.

Finally, don't waste your life on what-ifs. Don't waste time thinking you should be somewhere else. The time is going to pass by, so even if you need ten months to figure out where it is that you want to go, make sure you use those ten months to begin exploring the change that your life needs to see. I know it can be daunting to take that first step. I know you will worry about what others think. If you are working to be the best version of yourself that you can be, then don't let negative comments from others impact your progress. Just listen to that gut feeling that you are on the right path and keep pushing forward. You've got this.

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