Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Struggle With Self-Worth

Ok, it occurred to me that, if I say I'm going to be brutally honest in this blog about what's going on deep down inside and if I'm going to figure out how I'm wired and what it is that I want out of life, then I probably need to learn how to write through times like now...times when I feel less than stellar about myself and would benefit from figuring out why.

I am currently in Indianapolis at the beautiful JW Marriott hotel.  The most amazing hotel I've EVER stayed in.  This week has been an insane, yet inspiring and fulfilling myriad of hard work, late nights, fine dining, last-minute PowerPoint tweaks, alcohol drinking, deeper understanding, networking, frenzied activity and career-building vision.  At the same time, my days here have been riddled with nightmares about my kids, an epic public failure in PowerPoint, constantly overcoming shyness to meet people, fake chit chat, extreme physical exhaustion, over-eating, caffeine overload and one gnarly battle with low self-confidence.

First, the good.  I am surrounded by incredible minds who have been working diligently to produce incredible software that is already doing so much good for Universities across the world.  There are countless CIOs, Software Developers, Commercial Consultants, CFOs, Project Managers and heads of any University department you could imagine here this week. They are brilliant and professional and absolutely trained for just this sort of thing.  They are eloquent speakers and they just know SO much.  They are ridiculously inspiring.  I have several new "business heroes" and not a few budding "career crushes" on some rather important folks in the world of Technology.

This is a good thing.  These people have inspired me.  I want to be like them. I want to know more, to grow and to be more.  I hope to someday move up in my career and BE them.  I certainly don't dream of being a Secretary forever.  Here's a I sent off to several universities, asking for more information on online Master's degrees in Information Science.  Because I know that I need more education to truly be one of these great minds.  I very much believe in what this Foundation is doing and it has dawned on me that I have finally, after all my years of working in every different field (insurance, architecture, residence life, student records, self-publishing, consulting) been blessed enough to stumble across a path that I would like to stay on...dare I say it...for the long haul?  And, with this organization growing exponentially as it has been over the past five years, the career possibilities are literally endless.  And I understand that the places I go, career-wise, will be directly proportionate to the work I put into learning.

But here's the rub. Everyone here is so...professional and poised and perfectly coifed and RICH...and just...everything I feel I'm NOT.  I feel like a roly poly little 4-year-old making silly faces and holding onto my mommy's hand when I stand awkwardly next to my boss as she schmoozes the President and CFO of the University.  I feel so ill-equipped to answer pretty much any question that is asked of me in a meet-and-greet situation because I really know so little about the technical side of these projects.  And it's not just because I'm new. It's because I just don't understand anything technical.  I literally have no idea what these people are talking about half the time!  It's a whole other world...a completely different language!

And I guess I am having trouble balancing this awe and admiration of these amazing people around me with the place that I'm at right now.  It's my default to shrink into low self-esteem, try to hide and basically just feel like crap because, frankly, I feel...not good enough to be among them.  I feel like I'm somehow worth less than everyone else because I don't feel like I bring anything to their table.  In my head, I know this is not true.  I know that I have quite a lot of talents and skills that many here do not possess...I mean, why else would I be working so high up in this great organization?  But, still, there are times I just feel invisible. 

The thing is...I allow myself to be invisible.  And, as my new career guru, Caroline Dowd-Higgins says, making a transition in your career is always about taking a risk and trying something new.  I know that I know that I know...if I want to be where these people are in the future, I will have to make it happen.  No one will do it for me.  And the first step will be to refuse to allow myself to be invisible.  The next step will be to believe in myself.  For real.  But, where does one get a confidence like this?  That's what I am struggling with now. 

And, well...sorry, I don't have the answer for that.  I'm asking you or anyone who knows.


  1. Leah - you rock and I'm so proud of you for expanding your comfort zone. You have taken the first step, written it down and said it out load and now it will happen. You deserve this so remember that always. I'm cheering you on all the way!!!

    Caroline Dowd Higgins