You Are Not A Failure, They're Just Not Ready Yet; What I Learned in My 22nd Year

Last month was my 23rd birthday, and after a very tumultuous year I've found myself reflecting a lot lately. 22 was a year of ups and downs, mostly downs to be quite honest.
If at first you don't succeed, you're running about average- M.H. Anderson
As I sit here on a particularly down night with my pint of dairy-free ice cream I feel the need to share, not because I have any angst towards those who may have contributed to my down periods, but because I know that many of my friends and other recent graduates are feeling the same and maybe sharing this will offer some solace.

I had been working late every night at a basically undefined role-- since graduating I had become accustomed to small companies offering 'jack of all trade roles' to those with liberal arts degrees. While I had tried to vet my offers effectively before accepting a position, I had found myself in a dead-end role. I was promised a lot in this role, and things were falling flat, no matter how much I overworked myself to uphold my role. Responsibilities were being piled on that I was never trained for, and frankly there weren't enough hours in the day for me to take care of these additional tasks. It felt like I was working 3 jobs yet I was still pushing myself, blaming myself for being unhappy with my role, thinking that if I just try a little harder maybe I would earn some sort of acknowledgment and the bonuses, benefits, and role changes I was promised would shortly follow. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. My last few days were stressful, inducing a few panic attacks.

I'm not sharing this to scare anyone regarding their first corporate positions, but instead I hope you learn from me and go easier on yourself. Looking back I just wish I wasn't so hard on myself, there are some things in life that are just not meant to be. I had put so much faith in the idea of 'if I just work harder things will improve' but the environment and the role were not conducive to success no matter how many additional unpaid hours I dedicated to the company.

At this point I have completely switched gears, finding myself in a role I did not plan to be in. I work for a much larger corporation now and have landed myself a role at the ground level. My goal is to eventually move into their corporate environment, back in the marketing department. There are a lot of benefits included when working for a large company, I'm offered insurance, a 401k, corporate discounts, etc. Although it's easier for a larger company to establish these benefits, it also makes me feel as though I am a valued asset, and that my company is looking out for me.

If you're reading this and feel that you're in the same situation I was once in, I hope you take the time to understand that you are doing all that you can. Do not blame yourself, or overwork yourself to compensate for your unhappiness, or to compensate for shortcomings in your department.

Instead take a deep breathe, where do you see yourself a month from now? 3 months from now? Do you still see yourself in this role? do you see things improving if you continue to stick it out? Do your values align with those of your superiors, with your company?

At the end of the day yes, we all need a job, but if you feel that your mental health is deteriorating, that you're unhappy, or that you've come to a dead end I would encourage you to look at other options. While I didn't see myself in the role I am currently in, I'm happy that this change was made, I'm happier in my new work environment, my superiors have an open door policy when it comes to questions, concerns, personal issues, and advice on moving up in the company-- they are always there to help, which is very encouraging. While I'm still nervous, coming off of a pretty terrible year I do have hope that I am moving in the right direction.


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