But What If They Don't Like Me? Or Questions I'm Not Qualified to Answer
I am often amazed at the questions I get from people going through career transitions or finding themselves on the job search for the first time in years. And it’s understandable because Lord know there’s tons of information and opinions and advice out there, all contradicting each other and making what is already a complicated process even more confusing. In a time where all you need to do to find an answer is open up your favorite search browser, how do you navigate all the different information? You ask someone you trust, someone who’s in the business, who, hopefully, knows the answer and can point you in the right direction! I get asked a lot of questions.
But there are times when I get a question that simply floors me. Not because the person should know the answer already, but because they felt they had to ask it in the first place. Because it means they think about it. Because it means it matters to them. Because it’s personal.
A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting across from a beautiful, African American lady with natural gorgeous curls and big worried eyes. Just at the beginning of a career transition and filled with uncertainty and doubt. We walked through what to expect and steps to take on this new journey and after a half hour of answering and responding to all the typical questions and concerns, I felt the change.
She turned away from me.
She leaned in, looking over my shoulder.
She lowered her voice.
“Do you think I should straighten my hair?”
Y’all, my heart stopped.
I was screaming in my head - NO!!! What are you talking about?! Are you nuts? Why would you do that?
But inside I knew instantly that this question was too big for me. Too rooted in things I am never going to be able to understand. Too personal.
But she trusted me enough to ask and I knew I had to answer. And I did. In the only way I know how, from the heart.
“Do you want to work for someone who will only hire you if you change a part of who you are?”
This is a question we all have to ask ourselves at some point in our career. And it’s a question that no one can answer for us. The question is big. And important. What matters most to us? What are we willing to do, put up with, pretend to be in order to get where we want to go?
I wholly believe, with all that I am and all that I’ve seen and experienced, that a job can be fulfilling – both career wise and personally. I believe this thing called ‘work’, when it’s right, can feed your soul and allow you to contribute in a purposeful way while moving you closer towards your best self.
I also believe, that sometimes in our lives, a job is just a job. Sometimes we just need a paycheck to take care of our responsibilities. And that’s okay too.
But be careful changing to fit someone else’s ideal. It’s like lying on your resume! You may get that job based on those little lies you pen, but it never takes long for the truth to come out. Either you commit to living that lie day in and day out until you can no longer face yourself in the mirror or you show up one day a different person praying no one notices, praying you’ve done enough to prove your worth. What an exhausting way to live!
If it’s something that doesn’t matter to you or something you know you can totally live with either way, then fine, go for it. Do what you need to do to get where you want to go! But, if the thought hurts your heart, makes you question or doubt your purpose, makes you feel uncomfortable…just don’t. It’s never worth it.
There are so many opportunities waiting for just the wonderful person you are. Trust in yourself, trust the process and keep moving forward.