For all of my adult life, I’ve lived in a culture of “fake it till you make it” as a professional woman working her way up the status ladder. I was taught to hold myself a certain way, dress a certain way, speak a certain way, and it worked in my years of climbing the ladder. I conformed to the culture of my office and I was happy to be trained and molded successfully. I was “making it” and felt successful – but at what cost?
At my last job, I realized that when my true self was not aligned with the successful image I was putting out into the world, it literally made me sick. In hindsight, the incessant chatter of my negative reel had convinced me that I was not enough and my ego was driving my decisions. I was always anxious, overthinking, worried, and exhausted.
But with all the self work I’ve done over the years, I thought I learned my lesson. I thought I was a pro at being true to myself and living in the flow. But the last couple months, I found myself tempted by the status and money that comes with a promotion. I noticed myself falling back into my “fake it till you make it” job search routine because that’s what I knew and that’s what I thought was expected of me. It felt familiar so I thought this was what I wanted, but when I paused long enough to reflect on what was happening, I knew I was repeating a history that already proved it wasn’t what I was searching for. But damn, it sure was tempting...
To set the record straight, I really like my current job. I love my boss, my coworkers are great, and they let me work part-time and have flexible hours. They even encourage me to lean into my strengths. It’s a pretty good fit professionally and personally. The issue is that we’re moving and my job may not be able to move with me.
So I started looking and it just so happened that this great job was posted in the city I was moving to! I applied, and even though I would have to go back to working in the office 3 days a week and go back to working full-time, it was a promotion and I had to try for it.
I went into autopilot. Reaching out to people that work with the office, doing research on issues they were briefing headquarters about, and looking into the monthly parking rates at the garage next to the office. I was visualizing, strategizing, running scenarios in my brain for weeks. I knew I was qualified to do everything in the job description. I thought this was divine timing.
I got an email that I had been chosen to interview for the position. Yes! But then I paused long enough to realize I never honestly considered if this opportunity was in alignment with my core values and the life I was trying to build. I was conflicted. I was confused. I was scared that I would make the wrong decision.
I started over-thinking, over-analyzing, and stress eating. I found myself justifying my actions and my thoughts. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was spiraling. What I needed were my tools and to go back to my foundational steps. After journaling, meditating, and pulling some oracle cards, I decided that I just had to be my true self in this interview.
But even with this shift, I would still catch myself wondering how “they” would want me to respond to potential interview questions. So I focused my energy on practicing my responses to be in line with my values and my vision for my role in the office.
The day came for my phone interview. I prepared by meditating 5 minutes before I called in, centering myself and grounding my energy. I intuitively chose an amazonite crystal to support me speaking with courage, truth, and confidence. And when the interview began, I spoke from my heart and with my true voice.
Looking back, I do wonder if I could have answered some questions better but whenever I start down that rabbit hole, I remind myself that it’s over and I must surrender to what happens next. If my personality and my vision for the position is not in line with the office culture, then we’re not a good fit and that is okay. I am not a failure.
I realize that this was an opportunity for me to release my social conditioning, to reflect on what I want in life, and to be proud of the unique talents I bring to my team. I am celebrating that I caught myself on autopilot, that I shifted my energy from focusing on external incentives to reflecting on my core values, and that I put my effort into showing up for that interview feeling confident. And in the end, the goal wasn’t about the promotion, it was about being true to myself.
I started this process with the goal of getting this specific job, but now I know that the real accomplishment was putting the effort into building back my self worth. My goal now is to make sure that I have a job that appreciates the real me because faking it isn’t my definition of making it anymore.
P.S. If this story resonated with you, share it with me in the comment section below. Also, you can follow along with my related stories and try my favorite tools as I work through my personal growth journey...
Hi, I'm Ming-Wai and my ego won't let me quit
I was poised to get the promotion I had been working towards all my career only to start questioning if this was in alignment with my values.
Hi, I'm Ming-Wai and my problems aren't real problems
I’ve spent a lifetime performing for others instead of living who I truly am inside and there’s nothing to “fix” when everything looks great on paper.
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