The ONE thing I wish I'd known when I graduated from college
A couple weeks ago I gave a talk at San Diego State, as part of my 2017 speaking tour.
I’d thought the audience was going to be around 20 people, but I showed up to an auditorium of TWO HUNDRED.
It was a major surprise, but as I walked into the room and set down my purse, staring at the beautiful faces of SDSU’s Theta sorority chapter, I thought to myself,
Cool, I’m ready. Let’s do this!
(And then I did it.)
The reason I share this anecdote with you isn’t to brag. I know public speaking DEFINITELY isn’t for everyone. Rather, my job as a blogger (and speaker) is to normalize the idea of women looking at a situation they may feel unqualified for, and then saying, “I’m enough. I can do this.”
7 years ago when I graduated from college, I didn’t have this mentality.
I felt massively underprepared for the requirements of the “real world,” and terrified of being completely on my own, sans the structure of my university reminding me that I was doing the right things. (Go to class, write your papers, study and take tests, and you’ll be fine.)
Moreover, as everyone’s graduation caps read excited messages like, “Ready to take on the world!” my stomach churned with anxiety and nerves as I realized… I wasn’t. I did NOT feel ready to take on, face or even live in the non-college world. And I felt shamefully closeted about it.
Be it not knowing what to study, forgoing college altogether, or changing directions post graduation, too many (super successful!) women have struggled with the pressure of “deciding on the rest of their lives,” and then somehow magically being 100% prepared for it in advance.
But that’s not how life works. As cliché as it sounds, life is a journey, and you’ve gotta acknowledge that you’re okay where you are.
Looking back, if there was one thing I wish I’d known when I graduated from college, it would be this:
It’s perfectly acceptable to not feel ready, but know that in whatever situation you come across, YOU ARE ENOUGH. Exactly as you are. In that very moment.
Yes you may not have 100% of the “required qualifications” for the job you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re not capable of being trained, so apply for it anyway!
The likelihood that you’re being too critical of yourself is also a high probability. An internal study at Hewlett-Packard (often cited by Facebook COO and Lean In founder Sheryl Sandberg) reported that men apply to jobs when they only meet 60% of the qualifications, whereas women only apply when they meet 100%.
You can go out into the world confident that you have enough potential, enough work ethic, enough maturity and open mindedness to get you in the door to wherever it is that you wanna go. Because when you harness the energy of “I am enough,” people believe you!
I’ve walked into job interviews where I’ve been FAR less qualified than other applicants — not having gone to an ivy league school, or even having as relevant of a major — and gotten the job.
When asked why I was hired, they said to me, “You were the most real.” And it’s true, I was. I didn’t go in there pretending to be anyone other than Emily Adams, a hard working, smart girl in need of a job.
I always say that the key to success is simply being yourself. So whether you graduated 20 years ago or you’re the Class of 2017, please know:
You are enough.
Thumbnail image via: Tumblr