Growing up, I didn’t have parents who were active in the encouragement of my success. What do I mean by that? I mean, no one ever discussed grades with me. No one pushed me to become a better student or athlete. We never discussed possible careers, professions or paths in life.
I was a smart kid. A naturally driven student and a competitive athlete. I always wanted to improve. Yet I never received feedback that what I was doing was good, or successful. No wonder I still feel like I’m not good enough as an adult. I don’t know who I’m waiting for to tell me that I have had success in life.
When I was a kid, I was carrying the results of my SAT scores. I don’t know why I had them with me or the circumstances of why my neighbor, a woman I did not know well and do not remember today, asked to look at them. I had gotten an A- (90%). It was okay, but not really all that great. I already knew that.
Her response to my mediocre score was like no response I had ever been given, by anyone. She looked at my paper, and then at me, with so much pride and a major sense of being impressed. I didn’t understand. Thankfully, she understood that I didn’t understand, and she explained to me that my score meant that I scored in the 90th percentile, meaning that amongst every other 5th grade student in the entire country, I was in the top 10%.
I believe that was the only time someone has ever explained to me the results of anything I had ever done, academically or athletically. I always just relied on my own subjectivity to decide if I would be proud of my results or not. More often than not, I am not pleased. I know I could do better. It’s hard to improve when you’re constantly feeling like you’ve fallen short. By whose standards? My own.
Parents, it’s really important for you to take an active interest in your child’s life. Maybe you do not have the same level of ambition. Maybe you’re not as talented or skilled or naturally intelligent. Maybe you’re not musical. Maybe you’re just not that into science. Or art. Or sports. But as a parent, it is your most important role to raise your children to believe in themselves. The best way to do that is to get involved. Figure it out. Be supportive.
All my life I have believed I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to the best of the best. Anything below that, was not worth writing home about. It’s an exhausting way to live.
When I received a call to discuss “follow up” on the interview last week, the interview that could not have gone better, I was hoping for and expecting an offer.
But his tone did not sound like he was going to make an offer. He sounded hesitant, apologetic. He thanked me for taking the time to come in for the interview. His thank you sounded more like an apology. And he said it was nice to meet me. Again, like our meeting was a one-time thing.
By the time he said he would like to offer me the position, I almost missed it. The voices of self-doubt and not being good enough are really loud, even though I am working hard to silence them. I almost didn’t hear his offer over those voices, which fed off his apologetic tone.
I sat there numb, as he laughed at my expression and continued on to explain why he was offering me the position. My education, my work experiences, my passion, everyone in the interview really liked me. In fact, my credentials put me in the 3rd tier of pay. I would have made the 4th, but I had a 3 year gap in relevant work experience. There’s nothing I can do about that but move forward.
I need to take a moment and think about the things he said to me. The fact that I fell into the 3rd tier of pay. That I am valuable to OHSU because of years of hard work, dedication to the health & wellness of others. I was liked by the panel of interviewers because for the first time in 6 years, I was able to go on an interview and 100% be myself. I was allowed to let my light shine as bright as possible. I was in my element, I was standing at the trailhead of my own life’s path. I didn’t have to use optimism to make my answers fit the question. I could just be myself.
It is a major honor to be hired by OHSU, and a major honor to be received with enthusiasm by ODOT. I need to take a moment to celebrate this accomplishment in life. I need to let it sink in. Because as I move forward in life, I want a more realistic standard for success. I want to know what success feels like so I don’t miss it the next time it happens.
Define success so that when it happens, you can recognize it. When you recognize it, you will truly know success.