It took me some time to get acclimated to the working world after college. I couldn’t understand office politics. I spent 24 years deferring to adults in school. Now, here I was (finally considered an adult) and I didn’t know how to navigate my career.
No one prepared me for defending my boss. No one prepared me for defending myself. Still, I did the work. I wrote grants, managed the database, managed a website, created videos, took board meeting minutes, showed up at 7 AM for meetings with volunteers, organized events, and created fundraising letters. I raised millions of dollars in a two-person shop (caveat: my boss and every-day volunteers who knew my work respected me).
I was a rockstar development associate!
I was a go-getting, good-getter. I had the passion and technical tools for success. Yet, from some colleagues the part I am remembered by are my failures. There was little compassion for a fresh-out-of-college, barely-an-adult woman. I didn’t have anyone eager to mentor me. I got reprimanded for my mistakes and I feared defending myself. I floundered and no one was there to help guide me.
I learned the hard way.
It wasn’t until I was more established in my career that I found a couple bosses who really took me under their wings. They had children my age. They had hard-knocks life experience, a can-do positive attitude, and they led me with fearlessness and determination. They were wise, kind, and caring. Yet, even they were under-appreciated and mistreated.
We’re doing charity work! This isn’t competition. This is teamwork. We need to live the mission in order to fulfill the mission!
I bounced around a few jobs by the time I was out of my twenties—all less than a year. I have very little contacts during that time; very few colleagues would vouch for my work. I was ashamed. I cried a lot. All the judgment was overwhelming. They thought I was unprofessional! They thought I was immature!
They thought I was never going to be successful.
And, yet, here I stand: a manager, an international business traveler, a friend-raiser, a fundraiser, and a collaborative team member. It may have taken ten years, but here I stand. Even now, I have people who won’t write me a recommendation on LinkedIn. Even now, I have people who remember me by my failures. Who won’t talk to me. Who gossiped about me to others in the industry that caused me not to get jobs.
What about that $750,000 grant I wrote and was awarded for you? What about the $500,000 I raised from Asia for you? What about the volunteers and donors who adored me?
I am not defined by my failures. I am human. I have a growth mindset.
Thank you to those who believed in me—who championed me. Who did not define me by my mistakes. I am where I am because of you.
Who have you disappointed? Who has championed you? Have you transformed your failures into success? There’s no stopping us now.
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