Lacking Confidence

I hate looking for a job.

I don’t think I used to dislike it this much, but I guess a lot has changed over the years.  I’ve changed.  Once full of cautious confidence and an abundance of dreams and goals to aspire to, I was able to find not only a decent work-life balance, but also felt a sense of pride in my work, even though I was performing pretty simple tasks.  I did them well, and I was pleased with my abilities and how I felt about myself each day. I felt competent, no matter what I was doing.  And I felt like I earned every step of forward progress I made, no matter how small.

If I decided I deserved more, I went out and got it.  I had no problem chasing the next job opportunity.

Then I went after something completely different, and made more money than I ever had up to that point.

And sucked at it.

To this day, I’m still not entirely sure what went wrong, really.  I thought at the time that I didn’t get the support I needed to succeed, but at the same time, if I’d really had the required skills, I’d have been able to work with more autonomy and forged my own success.  Instead, I was constantly questioning what to do, and would end up doing it wrong, anyway.  Or not quickly enough, or well enough, or whatever.  I still don’t really know, and therein lies the real problem.

For the first time, I was doing something I wasn’t suited to, and it was a disaster.  I couldn’t make it work.  And it wasn’t rocket surgery.  At all.  But I don’t have the right…mindset.  Or attitude.  From the outside, it all looks very simple.  When it’s done well, it seems effortless.  But the people who are good at administrative tasks and assisting executive types don’t generally get the kind of respect their abilities deserve.  And for people who are NOT skilled in those areas, it’s even worse.

It looks from the outside like the person doing the assisting is less specialized.  Less skilled.  But I think that people are just adept at different things.  Maybe the excutive needs an assistant because he CAN’T do the things his assistant can do.  Maybe he’s totally disorganized and can’t remember when he has appointments or craft intelligent and well-worded emails.  Maybe he doesn’t know how to create a spreadsheet or a strong PowerPoint presentation.  Everything can be taught and learned, but it can’t always be learned to do well.  Like doctors and nurses.  Many think nurses are nurses because they CAN’T be doctors, when in reality, doctors could not perform their duties nearly as well (or often at all), without the support of nurses and the rest of their medical team.  Everyone has a part to play in the team’s success, and when one can’t play their part well, the whole team struggles.

I was let go at the end of my probabtion period, because it wasn’t working out.  Not for them, and not for me.  I’d never tried so hard to do something but still failed so miserably at it.  It was frustrating because it had seemed so easy before I actually tried it.  It was pretty humiliating.  And it was scary, because suddenly I wondered what else I couldn’t do well.  What other simple tasks were beyond my comprehension and/or skill set?

I was unemployed for a month and a half, relying on friends and family to feed me and help pay rent.  Then I finally got a job with my current employer – and while the woman who hired me was concerned that I was over-qualified, I was relieved to have a job I could hopefully do – and there I remain, for better or for worse.

I did attempt to enter the teaching profession for the better part of a decade, but had zero success in that area.  And I think a large part of my problem now is fear.  Fear and uncertainty.  I don’t have the same confidence in my abilities as I used to.  And I am terrified of losing or leaving one job and being unemployed three months later if I fail again.

I think that’s why I hate looking for a job more now.  I have four little lives – in addition to my own – counting on me to keep us fed and a roof over our heads.  My mind and body don’t work the same as they used to, and I have an even lesser sense of what needs to be done.  I’m not in the same position I was when I was younger.  I don’t feel like I have the luxury of failing.

And that’s crippling to me.

If I don’t try, I won’t fail.  So now when I look at job openings, I imagine what the daily life of each would look like, and apply if I think I might have a shot at succeeding, or more often if I think I’ll have no shot at even landing an interview.  I feel like applying alone is still accomplishing something, even if it’s just a feeling inside.

But the truth is I really have no idea what I am capable of outside of my current workplace, and I only have a limited knowledge of what I am not capable of, because it’s been over a decade since I ventured to try something different.  Pretty much everything I know about myself an an employee is based on this one employer.  It’s a bubble I’ve existed in almost exclusively for over 15 years.  Largely because I am afraid of what will happen if I fail anywhere else.  Yet now I am failing inside my bubble, too, and I have no idea what to do about it.

It appears I’ve put myself into a trap of my own making.  It’s scary and disheartening and yet still kind of exciting, in a way.  Because if I actually control the trap, maybe there’s a chance I can dig myself out of it.  For now, I’m still just window shopping, because I’m far too afraid to make a move.  But the time is fast approaching where I will have no choice but to make some kind of change, be it a new apartment or a new job.

And I love my apartment.

I can’t wait to see what I end up doing.



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