The trash fire that is all of 2020 has taken a toll on my already-fragile self-esteem. I suffer from impostor syndrome even at the best of times, but this whole year just feels like waaaayyyy too much. However, I’m still responsible for two/four/six human beings, and I have to find a way to be functional, move forward, and keep the bills paid.
A benefit of this year has been the opportunity to sit and reflect on the kind of work I really want to be doing–writing content for myself and my clients, teaching yoga, and offering mindfulness workshops. As we moved into the fall though, and it became apparent that we’d no longer be able to rely on unemployment to supplement our income, I began to panic.
At the bottom of a deep depression, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a job that I really, really, really wanted. I dusted off my resume, called in favors, dug out my makeup, cleaned up my Zoom corner, and bribed my kids to stay (mostly) quiet during four interviews.
I didn’t get the job.
Applying for it, though, made me confront a deeper level of my impostor syndrome–I was afraid to even apply. I spent the first two interviews wondering if I was even good enough to do the work. I spent the next two wondering if I could get my life together enough to turn it in once it was done.
Fact is, every time I think I’ve gotten through this year mostly unscathed, there’s a deeper level of disruption and trauma under the surface. Having my kids around all the time, having to work in sub-optimal conditions, losing the boundaries between personal, professional, and parental–all of that started to erode my sense of myself as someone who can just do…what she says she can do. I love my family and I’m thankful for everyone’s well-being. And I’m also feeling crushed by the frustration of not being able to plan, never knowing what to expect, and constantly praying for things to get better.
There was a silver lining though. Even though I didn’t get the job, the process of applying for it was actually really good for me. Here are three benefits of reaching for that next level, pandemic or not:
1. It made me get my shit together.
I was depressed–like, no shower, McDonald’s all the time, “when’s the last time I brushed my teeth” depressed. Getting it together to apply for this job meant showering. It meant washing my hair and putting on makeup. It meant adult conversation, taking control of my schedule, and setting up my home office. It meant checking my resume and keeping mostly normal hours. It meant confronting what I had been ignoring for weeks.
2. It made me ask for help.
I had to reach out to a friend to get my resume in the pile. I needed someone to watch the kids while I worked on my assessment. I read emails over to my friends to make sure they sounded good. I called references and asked them to answer the call when it came. In short, I talked to more people that week than I had in a month. And I talked to them about something I wanted, that I was looking forward to, and that I felt good about.
3. It got me excited about the future again.
Applying for this role made me think about what I was looking forward to, what I wanted to do with myself, and what I loved–and missed–about work. It reminded me of the benefits of collaborating and working with a team, and the friends I made while working at my many different jobs in the past. I realized that there were some major benefits to the upheaval of the pandemic–namely, that working from home was now a given instead of a special request. And it dragged me out of my funk long enough to see the light again.