The startup you were interviewing with was just bought out by a larger corporation and the job listing has been removed. You wasted 2 months of your life, and invested your hopes and dreams, for nothing…but that’s okay.
Your career is not off to the start you expected. You sell your first car, not because you don’t need it, you just need the money for rent more. That’s okay. Why didn’t you go to business school, you wonder? Why are you always the only one who looks like you in every office, in every interview? This isn’t right at all, but this too is okay.
Another eight months of interviews come and go, and you finally receive an offer you think is fair, and “commiserate with your expense,” and that’s okay. You’re working your butt off, and the work-life balance seems like an unattainable dream, and that’s okay too.
Your family is proud of you for your accomplishments, but they can’t explain what you do or even remember your professional title. You love them with all your heart but start to wonder if you’ve outgrown their professional advice, and that’s okay.
Then, one day, your boss asks, “Have you been to South America before?” You say no, thinking it is a weird question, but it’s okay. A week later he tells you, “WE are going to Argentina to pitch clients” and you think “wow! Now that’s OKAY!”
Now, you’ve worked for less than 10 years in your career, and though you can’t ask your parents to confirm, you know you make more money than they do. And that’s okay. Your flat is getting too small for your needs, and you can afford something that’s almost double the price you’re paying right now. And that’s okay.
Expect wins and losses in your career. You are unique, but not special. And that’s okay. Be present and accountable. Be hard on yourself and never lose your edge. But NEVER believe it’s not okay. Even if it’s not okay right now, it will be. It must be.
In the midst of your career ascension, you may find it hard to remember all the accomplishments, attaboys and “good-on-ya’s.” You made your name by never being satisfied with what you have now; perpetually focused on the next promotion or milestone. When you’re wired as such, it’s hard to appreciate just how far you’ve come.
Now, make a folder in your personal email. Send all the professional kudos you receive to that email. You don’t need to read them now, but at some point, you may need to recalibrate yourself, and that’s okay.
Finally, remember what it’s like to be you, right now. When it is your turn to sit in the interviewer’s chair, think about the young person looking back at you. How inspiring and comforting it would be to see a reflection of yourself. Imagine what that person must be thinking. Maybe it’s something like, “Okay…I’ve got this.”
About the author
Derrius Clark is the Head of Programmatic Partnerships – APAC at Taboola Inc. He started his career in digital advertising straight out of Boston University’s School of Communications in 2006. Derrius points to his parents as two of his greatest mentors, both professionally and personally. He has worked with senior-level mentors from companies like Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and MediaMath, and GroupM. Two of Derrius’ favorite quotes are “STAY ready, so you don’t have to GET ready.” – unknown and “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
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