Have you ever heard the saying, “Tell me I can’t, and I’ll prove you wrong 50 times over”? That’s always been my mantra and view on life and the older I get the more true it rings. Especially within the past 2 years or so, I’ve found that people are always going to doubt you. If you can run the mile fast enough, finish the presentation to high standards, or something as simple as showing up on time. The faith we have in each other is dwindling by the day and it fuels me to push myself farther than anyone believes I can go. I was reminded how motivating those words can be today at work, but they also brought a couple other stories to mind as well.
When I first started working, I was on a project that had me travelling four days a week every week. In and out of airports, calling the Sheraton and Marriott my home, making friends with the concierge staff and living out of a suitcase was my reality. It wasn’t so bad as I’m pretty much on the go all the time regardless if I’m crossing state lines or in my own town, but I found you meet some really interesting people when you travel and this man was no exception. I had a few months of bumpy flights which led me to be pretty fearful that every plane I got on was going to spontaneously plummet to the ground at the smallest sign of turbulence – good times. I had just gotten off a pretty bumpy flight and settling into my connection when the man sitting across the aisle from me struck up a conversation. Nice guy, average joe, telling me about his family and the fact that he built radiation machines within hospitals and was on his way to repair one at that moment. Upon hitting our first bit of turbulence I immediately grip the arm rest and he sees me do so. He laughs and asks if I’m scared and I explain that flying through Hurricane Irene can make you a little leery of turbulence. He follows by asking me if I understood what turbulence was. I say of course, it’s the warm air meeting the cool air in the atmosphere (which I had actually just learned from the pilot I sat next to on my prior flight – handy). The look of shock covers his face and he says, “Wow, pretty AND smart. Never would have thought by the looks of you.” I’m sorry, what did you just say? Nevertheless, our conversation was over and I was noticeably peeved. First of many moments I realized there were some seriously numb minded people out there.
The next story happened a few months ago when I was in my office. Now like I said, I made the spontaneous decision to move to Boston months ago and it kind of shocked my family, friends, and co-workers since I had just been asking them for apartment advice in CT days earlier. So I’m roaming around the office (still haven’t figured it out as it’s about 10 times bigger than my last) and I run into a coworker from my previous office. Small talk ensues then he asks, “So is your rash decision to move to Boston still worth it 6 months later?” Again, cue the blank stare and I am SURE I didn’t hear him correctly. I ask him what he means to which he replies, “yea a few of us assumed you would be back in Hartford before the end of the summer.” I can only assume he thought this because I use to be a very calculated person and planned everything to a fault. If I wasn’t 100% sure something was going to work out just how I thought it would, I didn’t do it. If there was even an inkling trouble would be looming around the corner, it didn’t happen. Feeling my face turning read, I turned on the southern charm and a smile I like to muster up every now and then (thank you mom!) and replied, “120%. Great to see you, keep in touch.” You would have thought I was on a runway with how precise and hard my feet were hitting the ground. I walk pretty heavy, but my stiletto could have cracked concrete that day.
So here we are today. Little background, I had a director who is close to impossible to please. For some reason I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead that they liked to throw darts at daily whether it be embarrassing me in front of the client, having me stay up till 4am working on a document they never planned to use, or having me redo something five times over because they couldn’t figure out what they wanted. I have recently been taken off their service (you can’t see it, but I’m doing a happy dance over here) and they are not pleased. The administrative assistant is no longer and they now have to fend for themselves. So I’m finishing up some work today and I get a message from them regarding a previous proposal I had put together. They are nit picking things like the font being 0.5 off and the color a shade too light and saying I missed things I know they never asked me to put in. I’m sitting there going through the motions and listening to their feedback, but not getting too down on myself knowing that half of this just came to their mind to add today. They ends the conversation with “It’s fine, you’re young. You don’t know any better.” I’m all for learning and taking constructive criticism, but this isn’t me being young and naive. Biting my tongue (they helped me perfect this skill) I apologized, hung up the phone and proceeded to scream.
My past approach to these situations had been something of a temper tantrum to my then boyfriend, friends or parents. I actually explicitly remember storming into my parent’s room after that flight and exclaiming “YOU WONT BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!” Guess what? Doubt is going to follow you absolutely everywhere. We live in a world that is constantly asking us to prove ourselves and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. Let it fuel you. Let it ignite that pilot light in your chest that lets you smile back and think, “Oh yea – watch me.” Above all, never let it make you doubt yourself. Be your biggest advocate. If someone thinks you can’t do something, don’t give them the satisfaction of letting them be right. Run that mile as fast as you can. Do your absolute best on that presentation even if there are still a few things wrong at the end. Look fear right in the eye and never let it win. If we start letting the words and negative thoughts of others overtake our mind and take our strength, then we’re making the ultimate sacrifice. I’m better than that. You’re better than that. Never forget it.