A while back, I applied for a new role in my org. It was a major step up in title and responsibilities, but with my tenure at the health system combined with my past experiences, I could definitely rock it. It wasn’t the next logical career step, but I went for it anyway.
The other day, I learned that I didn’t get it. And while the news was depressing – and I did cry for a few minutes after receiving it (no shame) – I don’t regret going after it.
Because I was brave.
Putting myself out there
Now, for those of you who don’t know me as well, I’ve always been a bit of a risk adverse person when it comes to going outside my comfort zone. Not my physical comfort zone, I’ll gladly do any thrill-seeking sort of thing, but my mental one. It comes with the territory of having generalized anxiety disorder. And, as I learned after reading Brave, Not Perfect in under 24 hours, being a girl.
Hooray! I’m not being the only one who has gotten stuck on something because it’s just not good enough yet (hello, like the way too long amount of time it took me to actually launch this blog). But boo for all of us at the same time because we’re missing out on the possibility of learning and improving by playing it safe all the damn time.
As Reshma Saujani put it in her book, as the ultimate overachievers, girls tend to believe that in order to succeed we need to be more than excellent – we need to be perfect. But that comes back to bite us in the ass, because our need for perfectionism stops us from stepping up to take on a challenge unless we’re overly-prepared for it.
Lame. True, but lame.
There’s a stat that says a woman won’t apply for a job unless she meets 100% of the qualifications, but a guy will do it if he meets 60% of them. Why do we do that to ourselves? Why are we so afraid to step up and put ourselves out there? Saujani dove into most of that (very well, I might add … seriously, read the book), but a big part of it in my experience goes back to the boxes we sometimes shove ourselves into after being called bossy or the like as children. As kids, all we want to do is be accepted and belong. So we change our ways to do so.
I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of tired of trying to be perfect. I feel like I’ve discussed this in a couple of different ways now (from overcoming body image issues to feeling burnt out from the fakeness of perfection on social media), so y’all know where I stand on this: perfection is bullshit.
We need to accept that and embrace it, and use it to make us brave. We can not know everything and still be seen as competent. We can fall on our face when trying new things. The important thing is getting back up again (seriously, channel your inner Carol Danvers. That rise montage in Captain Marvel is the perfect thing to keep in your mind when you’re hyping yourself up for this!). I didn’t get that role, but I don’t regret going for it. Especially since it showed that I have gumption, and that I want to help my org continue to be amazing. If anything, it helped me be seen.
When the time is right
Another book I started reading recently is When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, and even though it’s a bit more scientific than Brave, Not Perfect, it still seems like this wound up being the perfect timing (see what I did there?) for me to pick this book up.
While it doesn’t apply apples to apples to my current situation, I’m learning a lot of really fascinating things about the importance of having our timing right. Not just to do things like make a meeting, but when we can be most successful in the day based on our chronobiology, the best way to take a nap for effectiveness (seriously, who knew that was a thing) and the like.
My timing might not have been right for that role, but it seems like it was perfect for showing my interest in going beyond my current comfort zone.
So go out there and try new things. In the words of the legend Miss Frizzle, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!”
Be brave, my friends. Who knows where it’ll take you.