To my early career folks, or those just needing a positive reminder that you are needed in your field

I write this as someone who has recently graduated and entered the professional workforce within the last two years: the growth and wisdom take time.

When I graduated and started working full-time, I (along with a lot of my peers) felt like I was supposed to be at my peak. I’m 24 years old, for reference (I know, I know – I’m young, but I still thought my professional glow-up was supposed to be ASAP). I think a lot of people who are exiting the world of academia and entering the world of work have this expectation, that if you’ve not yet arrived in the best moment of your life already, then you are behind all of your peers and will stay behind.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

It was easy for me to feel the burden of this perceived stunted growth because I was always seeing something online or on Instagram about, “Person A founded X at 20 years old” or “Person B featured in Forbes Young Entrepreneurs” — it was discouraging. I had this false understanding that I had to have all of the answers immediately instead of understanding that wisdom and depth of knowledge are all developed in the long game, not in the here and now.

After talking to some of my senior colleagues and doing some serious reflection, I realised that 1) the real growth, wisdom, and expertise take time and 2) their stories are not my story.

Wisdom and depth of knowledge are all developed in the long game, not in the here and now. Click To Tweet

Sitting at tables with folks (or wanting to) who have been doing the work (for 10+ years) that you dream of doing is not an indication that you are behind or don’t know anything. It just means you have work to do. Plan and orient yourself to become more knowledgeable about how to apply what you’ve learned in school, or otherwise, to learn other skills that will help you get to where you want to be. Sit at that table and ask questions – don’t convince yourself you don’t belong where those experts once were: in your seat.

All in all, I mean to say these feelings of inadequacy are normal, and from someone who is also very early in her career, I suggest:

#1 Give your time and energy intentionally

Look for and become involved in opportunities that encourage your growth – even if they are things that may not be quite on the nose of what you want to do/are interested in long-term, be sure you can learn something valuable from it (technical skill, cultural skill, professional development, etc); you will be grateful for those lessons down the road, even if they are rough (and, oh, they will be sometimes).

Sit at that table and ask questions – don't convince yourself you don't belong where those experts once were: in your seat. Click To Tweet

#2 Always move forward

As cliche as it may sound, reminding yourself that your direction is forward (even in times of reflection and rest) will help you move in goal-oriented and intentional ways and with a determination that will surprise even you. It will encourage you to be less terrified or nervous about slow, or sudden, changes.

#3 Show yourself love

Love, and more LOVE – there will be so many moments where you might be tempted to feel less than unaccomplished. Or feel that accomplishment and success (whatever that means to you) might be too far from reach. Feel it, honor those feelings, remind yourself that you deserve grace + patience, and keep it pushin’. There’s a difference between encouraging yourself amidst your challenges, and not being as honest as you could be about where you are/want to be. Be kind to and honest with yourself about how you’re moving, if you need to pause and reassess, etc.

But, love yourself above all other things.

Be kind to and honest with yourself about how you're moving, if you need to pause and reassess, etc. Click To Tweet

Good luck with everything and hang in there, ladies.

Written by Lauren Todd originally published on Elpha.com

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