I’m not even sure of the context anymore, but a group of us were standing when my boss said something along the lines of wondering during my first six months of the job if I had any nerves because I was so calm.
Those six months had long passed, and I’m pretty sure it was a compliment — that I kept my cool even while moving to a different office after a promotion and having to learn everything that went along with it.
Although it could have been bafflement (“How could he have stayed calm with everything going on?”) or even criticism (“He was so relaxed, it’s almost like he didn’t care.”)
It just wasn’t true. None of it was.
Everything felt like too much, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do and I was convinced I’d never figure it out.
For months — maybe six, maybe more, maybe less — I felt like a wreck every day … and thought it was pretty obvious to everybody.
“You’ve been here two days.” — 15 years later.
Another new job, another new office, more feeling like everything is too much and I’ll never figure it out.
Except this time, I made it clear, and that was the response I got.
“You’ve been here two days.”
In other words … “It’s fine.”
And then a reminder that I already knew more than I did the day before, and that little by little, I’d figure it out.
I’m the type who wants to be perfect on the first day and get better every day after that, but it’s not just that, even if I didn’t know the fear was called “imposter syndrome” until maybe a couple years ago.
What will happen if I don’t figure it out right away? What if I make mistakes? What will happen to me then?
What if I’m not good enough?
Right now, a grand total of five days in, it feels like the weather as I drove to the office. At times, the sun is out, and if feels like I’m getting it, even if I still have a lot to learn.
And then, all of a sudden, I’m in a fog and can’t see my way clear.
But 15 years ago, I figured it out, and I was calm because I was confident. And that boss became a reference for the job I have now.
I’d do well to remember that.