A few days ago, I stumbled upon a really interesting e-mail a professor sent to his students before finals. Side note: I went down several rabbit holes on the internet and social media to find this article so I could share it with you all but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Essentially, this marketing professor sent his students an e-mail saying they were not failing, that they would eventually find their dream job, that they will have to jump hurdles, fall, get back up, keep jumping, and that school and finals were just one piece of this journey and worrying would not help. To sum it all up, he said we are all worthy and talented human beings and one day things will work out, but don’t worry if they do not work right away. I know, pretty cheesy. But I love this message.
As much I would like to consider myself as a person who likes to live in the present, I am totally lying to you. I constantly think about what is next as I move forward with my education and it is daunting. Some of you might be on the same page as myself and may be in the journey of finding what is next. Whether it is a job, a new place to live, or simply the fact that graduation is so close (I’m freaking out). Something that I am good at, and I should not be, is not comparing myself to others.
To be honest, graduate school is the perfect stage to compare yourself to others. I do it all the time. Even with people who are literally not in my program and are doing something extremely different from me. As young professionals, we are extremely prone to feel the impostor syndrome in one shape or the other. The impostor syndrome consists of not trusting yourself and what you know but also not trusting yourself because others are “doing better things”. I get it, it’s hard not to look to your right or to your left and say to yourself “should I be doing this?” “I’m falling behind because so and so already did this and I have not”. The list can go on and on. It is not easy to mind your own path and appreciate it, but please stop. You are not behind. You are simply on your own path. The path does not always look like a straight line, has a trail, or has signs along the way. Other people’s path is not your path.
It is extremely important for us to remember that we are not all going to the same place, doing the same things, and taking the same time. Some people find jobs, research opportunities, summer internships, and other things in the blink of an eye, some others take longer, some may realize down the road that it is not for them and choose a different road. Write down how you think your path looks like and reflect on how you will approach certain obstacles. Look back at those writings whenever you doubt yourself or you find yourself frustrated with the challenges. Be kind and graceful to yourself and to others, be patient, embrace the path, embrace the timeline, and trust that one day you will reach your goals and find what is best for you.
In the meantime, it seems like most of us have a small break to relax, so again, I encourage you to think about your path. What can you see right now? What can’t you see? Who is part of your sounding board who will remind you that you are doing great given the circumstances? What will you do to remind yourself that comparison is the thief of happiness?
P.S.: Remember that you are a talented, valuable, and competent individual, if you were not, you would not be where you are doing the amazing things that you do.
Mara Schaffler | Educational Administration and Human Resources Development
is a second year in the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education (SAAHE) program within the College of Education and Human Development.