November 2019, I had just resigned from a job after 3 months, this was my third time leaving a job abruptly and feeling incompetent. Somewhere within me, I definitely felt like I was under a spell and didn’t have what it takes to stay on any job.
Or what other explanation could I possible have that after 3 years of leaving university, diving into the labour market, I still couldn’t find a place that felt right and my boss wasn’t threatening to fire me?
I mean the last job before the 3 months job, I was fired a month into it. It would always remain a day I will never forget.
I had gone to the office excited because we had an event to host that day, few minutes after settling in, my boss called me into his office and said “we are letting you go”, what? Why? What did I do? No query first? Nothing?
My tears that day were premium. Between asking all the ‘W’ questions, I was also pleading to be reconsidered with tears in my eyes and recounting all the time I made a mistake or didn’t complete a task, that must be why I am being fired.
Long story cut short, I left that day, feeling sad and broken, promising to do better on the next job.
But guess what? On the next job, I flopped too.
A month in, my boss and I were already cat and rat. We could barely see eye to eye, I dreaded having to face her everyday because I could tell we were going to argue about one thing or the other any way. Got so bad, I finally decided to voluntarily resign because it was either that or she would fire me.
I took the easier way.
Despite all of this, I knew I wanted a 9-5. I have a big time crush on them boss ladies in the corporate world and I know the way to get there is to get a job and stay long enough to go up the ladder.
Hence, I decided to keep trying my luck.
Again I started my search for another job after cleaning up my CV and resume. Luckily, I got another job about two months after as a “Digital Analyst”. Please don’t ask me how, let’s just say God was having fun watching move from place to place.
My job description was to manage the company’s online presence, social media, newsletters, online events, press releases, etc. Since I had a background in social media, blogging, and newsletters (I had managed to learn this from my previous roles), I figured I had what it took to do it.
But, I got another shock…
Two months into the job, I was struggling. It was so hard to mingle with colleagues, I still didn’t understand the industry, I rarely spoke during team meetings, and I didn’t feel like part of the company.
I tried to convince myself, that I would get better and I was having a hard time working with a team because I have never worked with one before.
But 6 months in, I was sure I was going to get a sack letter soon. Social media wasn’t growing so fast, partners for a live pulled out because I wasn’t delivering, my articles weren’t doing good either.
I was definitely under a spell I concluded.
After every meeting, when everyone listed everything they had done for the week, I would crawl into my shell thinking, I shouldn’t be here though, I didn’t do anything special this week except post on social media, send out a newsletter, reply comments and DMs, I am definitely not on their level.
My self esteem suffered a great deal, it didn’t help that on social media, my brand seemed to be progressing, and my DM filled with people asking me questions like I was a pro.
I felt like a fraudster, imposter Syndrome became my daily companion, I spent hours comparing myself to colleagues and my zeal to work faded significantly.
I was just waiting everyday to receive a sack letter, because even though no one was directly telling me I sucked, I could tell I sucked badly.
When I couldn’t continue bottling up all those emotions, I started talking to more experienced people around me, telling them about my struggles with work.
Thankfully, they held my hands and gave me strength. They encouraged me in different ways, while one was helping me with content strategy, another was giving me tips on how to write press releases, sharing her media contact with me to publish my articles and lending listening ears to my endless rants.
Special shout out to Nwanne and Vive, not sure if either of you will ever read this, but both of you are God sent. Neither might know the impact, but your words helped me find the confidence I needed to continue working.
Some advice they gave me that changed the game for me;
Vive encouraged me to take courses to improve my skills, told me to stop self sabotaging. She also sent me a list of few women in the communication industry to follow and read about, her point was, I didn’t need to have a degree in communications to excel at it, these women didn’t do communication.
From Vive, I learnt about Bozoma currently Head of Comms at Netflix is a graduate of English, just like me I remember thinking.
Nwanne, asked me to stop comparing myself. I remember saying, Nwanne, she is doing this, and this, and this and this, I don’t know how to do it. With care she replied “but she has been doing it for over 5 years Jessica, you are barely a year in the industry”.
These advice made a difference,
I started taking online courses, last year I got 3 certificates. True to it, those courses helped me improve my skills and confidence.
Also, I stopped the comparison. This was harder because there were team meetings and I had to listen in. What I did? While everyone was talking, I reduced the volume, so I didn’t have to hear and spoke only when it was my turn.
Books helped too! While trying to find my balance, I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and it was revealing.
I also forgave myself for all the mistakes I made and tried to not repeat them. Took note of my weaknesses, and tried to find ways to combat them.
For instance, I am quite forgetful so I learnt to write things I needed to complete so I can always go back and work on them.
Little changes here and there, I regained my confidence and my work started to improve.
Just like when I felt I sucked, I started to feel like I can do this, I got this, and not long after, a boss confirmed my thoughts saying “towards the end of the year, you became better.”
Sadly, I think they think it was because I wanted some bit of the end of the year bonus. Lolz… they don’t know the real story.
But I did and as the year drew to an end and I was approaching a year on the job, I knew I wanted to celebrate it.
I knew I wanted to document my struggles this past one year. Hopefully, I will look back a few years from today and say “I made it!”
Also, hoping that you can learn a thing or two from my journey and it would be the strength you need to keep striving.
I was going to list out 10 things I have learnt this past year on the job, unfortunately I have written quite a lot and don’t want to make this any longer.
But I trust that if you read closely, you can pick out more than 10 lessons from this to take with you.
In meantime, Happy Workversary Jessica!!!
Wow!! You did it! There wasn’t any spell after all, rather just like a baby falls while learning to walk, you fell, crawled, stood up, fell and now you are walking.
You are really walking Jessica, you are! I am so proud of you! Very proud and I know you will make me even more proud.
Soon you will be a sort after comms/media persons in the world and you will look back on the struggles and smile with gladness and pride.
As you continue on your journey to achieving your goals, I wish you the very best. I wish you God’s love and guidance, I pray for His strength to equip and lead you.
I pray you never forget your worth… I pray you achieve all your goals and dominate in your chosen career path.
Just so you remember, I forgive you Jessica! Yes, you’ve made mistakes, hurt people and gone back on your promises but still, I forgive you and God’s grace is sufficient for you, it time to let go of the guilt and now lean In to the woman you are destined to be.
You deserve everything good, pure and beautiful, and I love you!